UN mission: Ukraine actions after Odessa fire inadequate

May 2, 2019
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People lay flowers as they gather outside the burnt trade union building to commemorate the five-year anniversary of deadly clashes which killed dozens of demonstrators supporting Ukraine's government and pro-Russia protesters, in Odessa, Ukraine, Thursday, May 2, 2019. Five years after 48 people died in clashes in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, including dozens in a burning building, the UN human rights monitoring mission in the country is criticizing authorities for delays in prosecution and investigation of the violence. (AP Photo/Sergei Poliakov)

MOSCOW (AP) — Five years after 48 people died in clashes in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, a United Nations’ human rights monitoring mission criticized authorities Thursday for delays in investigating and prosecuting people for the violence.

The loss of life on May 2, 2014 started during a confrontation between demonstrators calling for autonomy in eastern Ukraine amid a Russia-backed separatist uprising and supporters of Ukraine’s government. Six people were killed during hours of street fighting.

The worst was yet to come. After pro-autonomy demonstrators retreated to a trade union building, government supporters threw fire bombs into the building; 42 people died inside or after jumping or falling from windows.

In a statement on the bloodshed’s five-year anniversary, the U.N. human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine said “authorities have not done what it takes to ensure prompt, independent and impartial investigations and prosecutions.”

In Odessa, residents marked the anniversary by laying flowers outside the trade union building and attending other events. About 4,500 people took part, according to police.