Kyiv, May 6, 2014 – Artem Filipenko, Head of the local branch of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, commented on the situation in Odessa during a press briefing at the Ukrainian crisis media center.
Today the situation in Odessa remains very tense, since tragic events that led to numerous victims occurred on May 2. Thus, 2 checkpoints were attacked at night with Molotov cocktails, but fortunately there were no victims among city residents. Commemorations and farewell to the killed in the confrontations on the central streets of the city continue, as well as the funeral of pro-Ukrainian activist who was one of the first to be killed on the Derybasovska street.
The actual participant of the events in Odessa contemplated on the situation: “We were dealing with a well-planned provocation. It was known in advance where exactly pro-Russian forces were gathering and that they were going to attack the peaceful walk in the city center. Prior to that, Odessa was a peaceful and stable place. Even though there were two opposing camps, they managed to negotiate. From time to time there were targeted attempts to destabilize the situation in the city, and they succeeded”.
The following steps were taken by the state to restore security in the city:
1) Currently serious staff changes in management take place. Thus, the regional governor Volodymyr Nemyrovskyy is dismissed, Igor Palytsya is appointed on this position. The head of the regional department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine was also changed.
2) According to information from the law enforcement authorities, the investigation of the events that led to numerous victims began.
The expert shared recommendations for resolving the situation. “In my opinion, the authorities need to launch a large-scale public relations campaign, since there are ongoing speculations around the subject, – said Artem Filippenko. – Supporters of federalism emphasize on the need to create “Odessa Republic”. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that separatist proposals will have only negative effects on the economy of the region. We know that the congress of deputies of all levels from Ukrainian Bessarabia (southern region) is scheduled for May 12. We don’t know exactly what will be discussed, but this trend is dangerous. The situation in the region is also affected by activities in the Transdniester region. Therefore, authorities need to take measures of order enforcement and lead the explanatory work”.
The expert also commented on the behavior of police and self-defense units during the events of May 2: “Unfortunately, we can’t count on 50-60% of police personnel now, for stabilization of the situation we need staff changes. Those law enforcement officials who allowed for the clashes in Odessa should be put under investigation. In contrast, the self-defense of Odessa did their best on May 2 by protecting the peaceful walk from provocations. There are many people with varying severity of injuries among them. Self-defense had and will stand in defense of supporters of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. However, the status of self-defense units in Odessa is not defined. We hope that the new authorities will establish a fruitful collaboration between local law enforcement and the national self-defense units of the city”.