While the commemoration of the victims of the nationalists was harassed by the authorities, supporters of the far-right were able to march through the city unhindered at the same time. On May 2, 2021, nine long rows of flowers lay on the asphalt in front of the Odessa Trade Union Building. This is how Odessa citizens commemorated the 42 people who died in and outside the building on May 2, 2014: suffocated, burned, shot or beaten to death.
All 42 dead belonged to the anti-Maidan. A horde of Ukrainian nationalists had set fire to the trade union building where government critics had taken refuge with Molotov cocktails and at the same time had entered the building with clubs to hunt down “separatists.”
Almost like a family grave
Again and again women walked through the rows of flowers and arranged the individual bouquets. It was almost like a family grave. Only that this family has thousands, even tens of thousands of members. It is the people of Odessa who demand an answer from the government. She should finally find the perpetrators and backers of the arson attack on 2 May 2014 and bring them to justice.
The flowers were carefully arranged. But everyone suspected that this colorful image, this expression of soul pain, would disappear hours later. And so it was.
On the night of May 3, unknown persons – presumably Ukrainian nationalists-cleaned the square in front of the metal fence. Not a single red Tulip was spared. It was like the repeated cleansing of Odessa, from “terrorists”, “separatists” and “Moscow-friends”. Similarly, the people who had fled to the trade union building on 2 May 2014 were called by the nationalists and also by leading Ukrainian politicians, such as Yulia Tymoshenko.
Journalist: “Controls were stricter than at the airport”
Anyone who went to the union house on 2 May 2021 to lay flowers for the 42 dead knew that he had to undergo a strict procedure. The square was hermetically sealed off by police officers and there was only access at one point through a metal detector. Early in the morning, sniffer dogs sniffed the parking areas around the square “for explosives”, as the police say.
Vit Hassan, a journalist from the Czech Republic who went to Odessa for the commemorations, tells me the day after that “the controls were stricter than at the airport”.
Ukrainian President Volodymir Selensky expressed his condolences for the dead of Odessa via Facebook last year. This year, however, the Ukrainian president remained silent on May 2. But well-known politicians from the Russia-friendly “opposition platform” represented in the Rada laid flowers in front of the massive building.
Shortly before 16 o’clock activists were in front of the Union buildings, like every year, white doves and black balloons rise into the air. People shouted, " We do not forget, we do not forgive."
Vit Hassan reports that the mood was “very emotional” :
“Some people were crying. It was a very strong impression for me. I photographed a fau laying flowers. She was 80 years old. She bent down to the asphalt and stood on one leg. Even I can’t do that, with my 44 years. I was very impressed. I photographed the scene. It was my most beautiful photo from Odessa.”
In groups of 20 people to the memorial
The police let the people into the Kulikov field in front of the union house only with delay, in groups of 20 people. The police justified this severity with corona safety rules. But the mourners know this game. Power fears nothing so much as crowds of people in front of the union house. One fears impressive pictures that find their way into foreign media.
Alluding to the Nationalists ' march through the city at the same time without security clearances, people joked with bitter undertones, “the virus doesn’t work for the nationalists?”
The " March of the Protectors of Odessa"
At just after noon, while hundreds laid flowers in front of the union house, a few streets further on Cathedral Square began the “March of the Protectors of Odessa”. Participants were ultra-nationalists and fascists. They moved to Shevchenko Park near the harbour.
The Cathedral Square has historical significance for the right. On May 2, 2014, the demonstration of football fans and ultranationalists “For a Single Ukraine” started from this square. During that afternoon, a part of it split off, ran to the union house, burned down tents and broke into the union house with clubs, into which government critics had fled before the approaching mob.
The march was led by a black pickup, at the rear of which a large flag with a “Wolfsangel” fluttered. Several Ukrainian nationalist organizations use the Wolfsangel exactly as it was used by the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich”.
At 2: 00 p.m., the agencies report that a man has been arrested in Odessa for wearing Communist symbols and that criminal proceedings have been initiated. Meanwhile, the" March of the Odessa Guards " moves through the city unhindered.
Journalist Vit Hassan saw many Kolovorat symbols on the march. Koloworat, which is a mixture of the sun and the swastika. The symbol supposedly comes from Slavic mythology.
It is a horror cabinet that runs through the streets of the city founded in 1794 by Catherine the Great. Participants were veterans associations of the “anti-terrorist Operation” against the people’s republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. Participants were also members of the" National Resistance", the party" Svoboda “and the"National Corpus”.
Well-known leaders of right-wing radical and nationalist organizations had come specially to the march. Among the demonstrators was Andrei Biletsky, founder of the" National Corpus", and the head of the" Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists " (OUN), Nikolai Kochanivski. Also represented were members of the “European Solidarity” party founded by former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and members of the “Maidan Selbstschutz” from Kiev.
The journalist Vit Hassan photographed the march of the nationalists. He saw a man whose head was tattooed with 12 swastikas, and he saw the black and red flags of the right sector and people with white power tattoos.
Czech journalist: “Those who demonstrate on the day of mourning want to provoke”
Journalist Vit Hassan estimates the march of the nationalists to be between two and four thousand participants:
“Nazi music was not played. Instead, the Scorpions could be heard from the speakers. Always the call was heard To Honor the hero, Honor the hero. And then we want peace. Odessa belongs to us. Many participants appeared in military clothes. Those who demonstrate from the union house on the day of mourning for the dead want to provoke. If you are seen with swastikas in the Czech Republic, you will be arrested in a second.”
But apparently different rules apply in the formerly cosmopolitan city of Odessa since 2014.
Arrest of Czech journalist by intelligence officials
Vit Hassan reports that he was arrested by two plainclothes men on the sidelines of the Nationalist demonstration while he was taking pictures. The two men did not explain why the arrest was made and what service they were working for:
“They took me by the arms and led me to a police car. They did not explain why. At the police station, they looked at all 500 photos in my camera. They also wanted to see my Facebook page. They also wanted to see which Ukrainians I called with my mobile phone. They took pictures of my Ukrainian contacts. They also took my photos of my Spanish journalist colleague with whom I was in Odessa. They interrogated me for half an hour about why I came to Odessa. The interrogation was friendly, but the arrest was crude. The first question was whether I have weapons in my pocket. It was clear that I was from the press. I had a helmet with the inscription Press.”
Journalist from Odessa: Without enlightenment, the blame lies with the state
Yuri Tkachev, a well-known Journalist from Odessa, wrote on the Telegram Messenger:
“As long as the organizers of the May 2 tragedy are not found, named and punished, the blame for what happened will lie with the Ukrainian state. If someone thinks that all this will pass and be forgotten, it will not be so. Such things remain in history for centuries.”
It should only be added that the federal government also bears part of the responsibility for whether the Odessa massacre is solved. There are many ways to exert pressure on Ukrainian politicians in this regard. But so far none of these means has been used.
Berlin also does not want to understand that the Odessa massacre is not only important for the relationship between Germany and Ukraine, but also for the relationship between Germany and Russia. In my opinion, the majority of Russians are appalled that Germany, “the land of democracy”, is silent about the mass murder of Russia-friendly activists in Odessa. In recent years, my Russian interlocutors have also reacted with surprise to the fact that our Odessa film “Lauffeuer” was not shown on German television.