Graham Philips who was there uses his video reports from the city to give the story:
- The Russian-speaking city in the eastern Donetsk region was anti-Maidan and pro-Russian and pro-Novorossiyan - and on a collision course with Kiev's military which would not give it up
- To be followed by a discussion of events of May 9th (the day many say the Ukraine Civil War began in earnest) itself
In January of this year, the widely discredited Bellingcat ‘citizen investigative journalist’ agency published a report into events in Mariupol, on May 9th 2014. Founder of Bellingcat, the disgraced Eliot Higgins, long implicated in wilful information suppression, and accepting payment from undisclosed sources to put out falsified reports.
The Bellingcat is as distant from the truth as its authors were from events. I spent extensive time in Mariupol, before, after, on May 9th. This is the first in a series of articles looking at what really happened the day Ukrainian military entered the city, causing multiple civilian deaths. I spoke with hundreds inMariupol, townspeople and officials, obtained exclusive video and photos to bring you closer to the truth.
I’d been to Mariupol in March 2014, and seen a large city much different from as I’d imagined from films I’d seen, full of rusting old boats, decaying tower blocks. It was far removed, this city of over 450,000 just 60km from the Russian border was modern, bustling centre, beaches even a bit Odessa-like.
I was impressed at this city which had sat out the Euromaidan, during that time seen no attempts on its Lenin statue which still stood when I was there, with the will of the townspeople that it should, in a conurbation which was no question, a Russian-leaning city – March 11th 2014 – (English subs):
Just a week later, the first incidents in Mariupol flared up, with the city’s council building taken by pro-Russia protesters on March 18th. They consolidated their hold of building, and the city seemed to go calm for a few weeks, but on April 16th flared up suddenly as a pro-Russia attempt to storm a Ukrainian military base by the city saw Ukrainian troops open fire, with a report of 3 killed, 13 injured on the side of the pro-Russia.
The aftermath of that night was the city, 2nd largest in the Donetsk region, 10th largest in Ukraine, escalating into a hotbed of action as the Ukrainian and pro-Russia/pro-Donetsk traded fire in exchanges and the occupied city council building reportedly changed hands several times, with denial and counter-denial each time. May 3rd, early morning 4th, saw Ukrainian military enter the city and attempt to retake the central city council building, on Lenin Street. They were repelled, as violence flared:
The blame for this was placed on pro-Russia activists, yet those I spoke to in Mariupol said they had been framed, pointed to suspicious activity in the bank in previous days – computers, hardware removed, ATMs emptied of money.
Here was the gutted bank as I found it on May 10th 2014:
This man I spoke to on May 10th in Mariupol, by the bank, stated it was a ‘provocation’ (English subtitles):
The Ukrainian army returned in force on the night of the 6th, and after a night of fierce fighting, this time managed to retake the city council building, on the morning of May 7th. Reports are of at least 3 killed in this fighting, and of Pravy Sektor members in military and police uniform involved. As Mariupol locals turned out to protest the Ukrainian army presence in the city on May 8th, there was footage of a city council surrounded by Ukrainian troops, firing automatic weapons into the air:
This was followed that evening by footage of burning tyres outside the city council building:
Night settled on an uneasy city, with fires burning and shots heard into the night, as pro-Russia/Donbass activists, now out of their base, regrouped, the city itself prepared to mark Victory Day, and Radical Party candidate, ultra-nationalist politician Oleg Lyashko was reported as arriving into a troubled Mariupol.