Ukraine Day 805: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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The crowds outside Kulikovo Pole in Odessa are reported to have dwindled despite the square remaining closed-off by police throughout the day.
Andriy Kotsyuk, head of the Odessa police communications department, told Hromadske that, as of 16:00 (13:00 GMT) 14 people had been arrested today.
According to Kostyuk, five people had tried to break through the cordon around Kulikovo Pole, formed of National Guard and police personnel.
On Deribasovska Street, one man was arrested after being found with a device resembling a smoke grenade.
Four people were taken to a police station after a fight broke out between them near Cathedral Square, where a memorial service was held today.
On Grecheska Street, two men with gas cannisters were arrested.
Finally a woman who had allegedly been handing out leaflets and a man wearing a St George’s ribbon were detained, Kostyuk said.
Dumskaya.net reports that one elderly man died outside Kulikovo Pole after apparently suffering a heart attack.
There is no suggestion that the death had anything to do with the actions of the police or protesters.
— Pierre Vaux
Leading members of the Opposition Bloc, formed from the remnants of Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, have flown back from Odessa after being prevented from leaving the airport by activists.
Dumskaya.net reports that Yuriy Boyko, the leader of the faction, and Vadim Novinsky took a charter flight back to Kiev this afternoon after spending several hours blocked in the airport by activists from AutoMaidan and Samooborona (self-defense).
The activists opposed the participation of Opposition Bloc MPs in the memorial events to mark the second anniversary of the violence that claimed 48 lives in Odessa.
One of the banners unfurled by the protesters read:
“May 2 – Memorial day for the victims of Kremlin propaganda and Russification.”
Novinsky told the TV channel 112 that he, Boyko and fellow Opposition Bloc MP Yevgeny Bakulin had flow to Odessa on a “purely peaceful mission.”
“We wanted to participate in the memorial service to those killed on May 2, 2014, which is being conducted by Metropolitican Agafangel in the Odessa cathedral and to visit Kulikovo Pole.”
Meanwhile Andriy Levus, an MP in the Popular Front party, reported on his Facebook page that men he described as “titushki” (meaning hired thugs) had arrived at the airport, to act, he presumed, as back-up for the Opposition Bloc MPs if a brawl broke out.
Eventually the visitors were moved to the secure VIP section of the terminal, where, Novinsky told 112, they held a prayer service with a priest, before flying back to Kiev.
— Pierre Vaux
Three Ukrainians who were arrested after the Russian invasion of Crimea and subsequently jailed, have reportedly signed documents required for their extradition to Ukraine.
On Friday last week, lawyers for Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military officer abducted from Ukraine’s Lugansk region to Russia, where she was jailed after a show trial, reported that she had completed extradition filings.
Now there are reports that three Ukrainians who were arrested and jailed by the occupying Russian authorities after the occupation of Crimea have also completed such extradition forms.
Film director Oleg Sentsov and activists Aleksandr Kolchenko and Gennady Afanasyev were convicted of terrorist offences in an internationally-condemned trial that saw Afanasyev publicly retract damning testimony against the other two on the grounds that it had been extracted under torture.
From a Human Rights Watch dispatch:
When Russia occupied Crimea in spring of 2014, Sentsov spoke out against the occupation and helped to evacuate stranded Ukrainian soldiers from military bases in Crimea. During his trial prosecutors provided no evidence of his personal involvement in the arson attacks, and the charges of him running a terrorist organization were based solely on testimony from two other alleged members of the group.
But one of them, Gennady Afanasyev, withdrew his testimony toward the end of Sentsov’s trial, saying it had been extracted under torture. In court, Afanasyev described how Russian security service officials viciously beat him during interrogations, suffocated him with a gas mask, stripped him naked, and threatened him with rape to force him to testify against Sentsov. Nobody has investigated these allegations.
Yesterday Svetlana Sidorkina, lawyer for Aleksandr Kolchenko,told Ekho Moskvy that both he and Oleg Sentsov had submitted completed extradition forms to the Russian Ministry of Justice.
Olga Afanasyeva, Gennady’s mother, replied to RFE/RL journalist Anton Namlyuk’s post about this news on Facebook, adding that her son had also signed the same documents.
However the Ministry has not, so far, officially confirmed receipt of the documents.
— Pierre Vaux
On the second anniversary of the violent clashes in Odessa that left 48 people dead, the security forces are out in force in the city.
Kulikovo Pole square, before the Trade Union building where 42 pro-Russian activists died as a result of a fire, has been cordoned off by police and National Guard personnel.
A little while later, a man was detained by police after he tried to push through the cordon of National Guard troops to reach the square.
At 13:30 (10:30 GMT), Dumskaya.net reported that specialists from the explosives service had completed inspecting the area around Kulikovo Pole, however the cordon had still not been lifted.
Here flowers were laid out to spell the word ПОМНИМ (“we remember”):
The Ukrainian military finally reported a significant drop in fighting yesterday, indicating that the Easter truce did, in fact, come largely into effect, albeit later than had been hoped for.
According to the ATO Press Center, only six attacks were recorded yesterday. Two occurred near Donetsk city, while the other four were in the south of the region.
A spokesman or the Mariupol sector of military operations told 0629.com.ua that Russian-backed fighters had used anti-aircraft artillery and grenade launchers, but no mortars.
According to the spokesman, two attacks were conducted near Granitnoye, east of Volnovakha, while two more took place closer to Mariupol, near Talakovka and Vodyanoye.
Military spokesman Anton Mironovich told the 112 television channel at 8:14 (5:14) today, that there had been no attacks so far today.
However the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency (DAN) reported, citing sources in the security apparatus of the Russian-backed, self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), that Ukrianian troops had continued shelling with both 82 and 120 mm mortars.
According to a DAN report, Ukrainian forces bombarded the Donetsk Airport area, as well as the northern and western outskirts of Gorlovka, with mortars and grenade launchers between 17:00 and 22:00 yesterday.
Later, the site reported that at around 8 am today, Ukrainian troops had fired ten 82 mm mortar rounds at Russian-backed fighters’ positions near Donetsk Airport.
— Pierre Vaux