Pro-Russian separatists have once again taken control of the Trade Union building in Odessa, and there are clashes once again.
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An interactive map of the situation:
View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.
A livestream from Odessa:
Below we will be making regular updates. Be sure to check back often and hit refresh.
The spokesman of the Russian President told the press today that Russia is playing a positive role in Ukraine, but then he essentially made the argument that U.S. and European Union actions in Ukraine were making the situation worse. The Moscow Times reports:
Amid calls to send Russian troops to quell violence in Ukraine’s east, President Vladimir Putin is monitoring the situation closely and holding meetings and calls with relevant officials day and night, his spokesman said Sunday.
“We believe we should have a common interpretation of what is happening in Ukraine, but unfortunately we do not see that Europe and the U.S. are sane in their assessments,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Moscow Times in a phone interview.
“Russia is trying to achieve tangible results as we saw in the case of the release of OSCE observers, but despite our efforts, the situation there is only getting worse,” he said.
Earlier today a group of armed pro-Russians stormed the police building in Odessa and released a group of prisoners who had been arrested at the Trade Union building on Friday or in Odessa’s riots. All or most of the prisoners were pro-Russian. The Guardian reports:
Ranks of riot police offered no resistance. When crowds burst into the compound and began smashing windows and wrecking police vans, officers agreed to release the activists.
Men and women, many in tears, emerged from the door of their cellblock and left through a tunnel of cheering supporters. Local police said later that 67 people were set free.
“The police did not interfere,” said Maksim, 26, an activist wearing a balaclava and helmet who was one of the first to get inside the compound. “They are only defending their weapons.”
Both local residents and government officials in Kiev have criticised the police sharply, accusing them of fatal passivity during the violence in the Black Sea city.
According to Reuters, the police admitted that 67 prisoners were allowed to walk free.
Ukraine’s President Arseny Yatseniuk accused the police of abandoning their posts, and accused Russia of sparking the violence.
Yatseniuk, speaking in Odesa on Sunday, criticized police forces in the Black Sea port city, suggesting they were more interested in the fruits of corruption than maintaining order. Had they done their job, he said, “these terrorist organizations would have been foiled…”
“There were dozens of casualties resulting from a well-prepared and organized action against people, against Ukraine and against Odesa,” Yatseniuk told representatives of social organizations.
He dismissed Russian accusations that his government was provoking bloodshed in the east with an operation to restore Kyiv’s authority in a series of cities under rebel control.
“The process of dialogue had begun, only it was drowned out by the sound of shooting from automatic rifles of Russian production,” he said.
Tensions are again rising as pro-Russian separatists have retaken the Trade Union headquarters in Odessa, and crowds are headed there as we write this.
A livestream from the crowds marching towards Odessa can be seen here.
A screengrab from the livestream:
Tensions have been mounting throughout the day.