Odessa massacre revisited
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
This awful footage – an exhibit of pictures from the morgue – was shown at a March 2016 UN Human Rights Agency conference in Geneva devoted to the May 2, 2014 Odessa mass massacre. 46 anti-Maidan protesters were burned alive, gassed or beaten to death by Ukrainian nationalists for opposing the ‘European choice’. The investigation is still on-going, with no end in sight and the suspects are still on bail.
This tragedy remains largely unknown to the Western world, and no international leaders gathered to mourn the 46 human sacrifices to the European idea. Now their mothers turn to the UN for justice.
Some context is needed to fully comprehend the tragedy: Odessa is not just any city.
Odessa is a Black Sea port founded in 1794 by Russian Empress Catherine the Great as a major economic, cultural and intellectual center of the Russian Empire (and later the Soviet Union). It is a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic city, predominantly Russian-speaking with a unique local accent immediately recognizable to hundreds of millions of ex-Soviets, who have watched literally thousands of films and documentaries about this ‘pearl of the Black Sea’ in the words of a popular song.
When Ukraine proclaimed independence in 1991, “Odessa was the first to congratulate Kiev and proposed a pact of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs”, according to a local joke.
Over the years, nationalists from Western Ukraine made several attempts to take over Odessa. They tried to bring down the monument to Catherine the Great, only to be thrown out by the locals who got together and defended the memory of the city’s founder.
They paraded along Odessa’s beautiful streets and boulevards with Banderite paraphernalia, shouting nationalist slogans and looking for a fight – only to be insultingly laughed off as a circus.
During the 2004 ‘Orange revolution’ in Kiev, Odessans threw oranges into the streets and smashed them with mini-tractors.
After the February 22, 2014 coup in Kiev, thousands marched with anti-Maidan and pro-Russian slogans, setting up a permanent anti-Maidan camp at Kulikovo Pole square near the Trade Union House. On May 2, following street fights that erupted between local pro-Russian activists and visiting Ukrainian Nazi marchers, they were chased into the building and killed.
Since that day Odessa has been a different place.
But it’s more than Odessa being intimidated, becoming just another provincial Ukrainian nationalist place. The city is split between pro-Russians and people possessed by the ‘European idea’. Families, lifelong friendships and good neighborly relations have broken-up, at best, with people agreeing not to discuss politics. Some leave Odessa for Moscow, others give up successful careers in Moscow (the TV entertainment industry is largely peopled by Odessans) to go back to their home town.
Here’s what an imaginary rational dialogue between the two parties would sound like:
- You rejoiced when Yanukovich was brought down because he postponed the signing of the EU – Ukraine association accord. Do you you know what this document implies?
-Can you tell me point by point what the ‘European idea’ means?
- What do you know about NATO?
- It is an organization that protects weak countries against Russia. They will defend us from Russian aggression.
- Do you know that your favorite governor, Saakashvili, turned Georgia into a prison and is wanted there on charges of corruption?
- All these are lies by his enemies. He is a successful reformer.
- What do you think about burning people alive on May, 2?
- They were bastards and provocateurs.
People who would say this are not monsters. Under normal circumstances they are nice, considerate men and women who would give you the shirt off their backs. But now they’re posessed with the ‘European idea’.
That is why it’s not enough for the UN Human Rights Agency to hold conferences on the May 2 massacre: UN General Assembly should condemn the ‘European idea’ as a form of sadism and insanity.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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