Massacre in Odessa

Russia’s Channel Odessa has done a real piece of investigative journalism on the Odessa massacre.

It appears to show that the street fighting in Odessa that preceded the massacre bore the hallmarks of a carefully staged provocation in which sections of the police and of the local authorities were actively involved. It shows that the “pro Russian protesters” (if such they were) who initiated the street fighting were a different group from the anti Maidan activists who were driven out of their protest camp and who were then burnt alive in the most barbaric way in the Trade Union building in what can only be called a massacre. These “pro Russian protesters”  appear to have started the street fighting with the active assistance and complicity of the local authorities and of the Odessa police. Once the larger group of Maidan activists who were involved in the street fighting moved towards the anti Maidan protest camp where the local anti Maidan activists were based the “pro Russian activists” who started the street fighting simply melted away.

I understand Channel One did not try to identify who these “anti Russian protesters” actually were.  Given that the local authorities in Odessa support Kiev if this was a provocation as seems likely then their  involvement and that of sections of the police tends to suggest that it was aimed at discrediting the anti Maidan protests in Odessa.  Certainly the provocation cannot have been arranged by Russian Special Forces unless one accepts the entirely farfetched possiblity that they have successfully suborned Odessa’s local administration and polce department.

At this stage any views as to who was responsible for instigating the provocation that led to the street fighting must be tentative. In order to arrive at a definite conclusion there would need to be a proper, impartial and independent investigation. Of course that will not happen at least whilst the present political conditions prevail just as there will not be a proper, impartial and independent investigation of the sniper incident on Maidan.

A few further points:

1. Regardless of who was responsible for the original street violence, film and eye witness evidence make it abundantly clear that the fire at the Trade Union building and the massacre there was carried out by Maidan supporters. Even if it eventually turns out that the “pro Russian protesters” who were behind the original street clashes were actually what they appeared to be that can in no way excuse or justify the barbaric actions of the Maidan supporters at the Trade Union building. The utterly appalling comments about the massacre from certain Maidan supporters that have appeared on social media and the perfunctory response to the massacre from the present authorities in Kiev (Yatsenyuk for example has criticised the local police but he has utterly failed to condemn those responsible for the fire and the massacre) only make things worse.

I am afraid this is consistent with the pattern of behaviour we have seen ever since the start of the Maidan protests in November with Maidan leaders and supporters (Klitschko being the occasional exception) reacting with extreme and often disproportionate anger when force is used against themselves (even when that force is lawful) whilst being callously indifferent and mostly supportive to the far greater force and violence used by their supporters

2. The conduct of the British media in response to this massacre has been beyond appalling.

Following the sniper attacks on Kiev the British media had no hesitation in putting the blame on Yanukovitch though the evidence (to put it mildly) was far from conclusive. At an earlier stage in the Maidan protests sections of the British media devoted a phenomenal amount of time, reporting and commentary to the attack on Chornovil with all sorts of unsubstantiated speculations that Yanukovitch was personally behind it though evidence of that there was none.

Not only has the British media by contrast failed to give the Odessa massacre anything remotely approaching the amount of reporting the scale of the massacre justifies or to carry out anything like the soñrt of investigation into it we have seen from Channel One but it persists in pretending that there are uncertainties about who was responsible for the massacre even though film and eye witness evidence is conclusive and even though (as I understand it) persons involved in the pro Maidan organisations involved in the massacre have openly bragged about it.  Instead

The Guardian in its editorial the day after the massacre preferred to editorialise about the wickedness of Russia holding a May Day party on Red Square

http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/may/02/editorial-ukraine-kievs-eastern-question

We had an article in the Daily Telegraph calling the local people who demanded the release of the surviving anti government activists saved from the fire and arrested by the Odessa police following the massacre a “mob” threatening Odessa with “anarchy”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10808244/Ukraine-crisis-mob-frees-separatist-heroes-as-anarchy-grips-Odessa.html

We have an article in the Guardian today calling readers who post comments on Comment is Free critical of its pro Maidan editorial line “Kremlin trolls” (thanks to Mark Sleboda for this).

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/04/pro-russia-trolls-ukraine-guardian-online

Whilst The Times editorialises that Putin must stop his campaign of “subversion and coercion” against the Ukraine which has in  Odessa has “inspired separatists” into “acts of war”

. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/leaders/article4080839.ece

I invite people to imagine how the British media would have reported this massacre if roles had been reversed and if it had been Maidan supporters who were burnt alive in the Trade Union building with an anti Maidan crowd filmed throwing Molotov cocktails into the building whilst baying for blood outside.

As for the political consequences of this massacre, its immediate effect will be to harden anti Maidan feeling in the south eastern Ukraine first and foremost in Odessa itself. That also for the moment appears to be the principal effect of the “anti terrorist operation” in the eastern Ukraine. Needless to say that makes the prospect of any sort of constitutional negotiations as required by the Geneva Statement all but impossible. It also makes the prospect of outright civil war in the Ukraine ending eventually in the violent partition of the country and the loss of the Ukraine’s eastern regions to Russia also more likely.

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