In the wake of Friday’s fascist massacre of pro-Russian protesters at the Trade Unions House in Odessa, the US puppet regime in Kiev deployed National Guard units to the city yesterday. The sending of the National Guard, a force created by the Kiev regime after the fascist-led putsch in February that has worked closely with the neo-Nazi Right Sector militia to repress protests elsewhere in Ukraine, is a warning to the working class.
Reports are already emerging that inside the city there is widespread fear of far-right, anti-Semitic violence breaking out in the coming days. The National Guard began street patrols yesterday, amid mounting popular outrage over the Friday massacre.
Yesterday, after Sunday’s mass protest to force the freeing of pro-Russian protesters detained by the police, Odessa residents continued to bring flowers and pay their respects to the victims of the massacre outside the burned-out Odessa Trade Union building. “This is a tragedy for all of Ukraine,” teacher Nadezhda Yelenchuk told AP. “This is the result of a civil war that has already begun in Ukraine.”
Everything points to the preparation by the Kiev regime and its US and European backers of another fascist atrocity to try to terrorize the city into submission. Given that forces like Right Sector openly glorify Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust, there is deep concern, in particular in Odessa’s 30,000-strong Jewish community, one of the largest in Ukraine.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, several community leaders reported that they are preparing plans for an exodus of Jewish people from the city. Rabbi Refael Kruskal—the head of the Tikva organization, which runs orphanages and schools and provides social services for the elderly in the city—discussed the measures they took after the Friday massacre led by Right Sector forces and soccer hooligans.
“Over the weekend, we closed the [Great Choral] Synagogue,” Kruskal told the Post. “We took all the students out of the center of the city where the violence was, because we were worried it was going to spread. We sent a text message to everybody in the community on WhatsApp that they should stay at home over the weekend.”
Kruskal added that he anticipated large-scale violence in Odessa this Friday, May 9, the traditional commemoration of the victory by the Soviet Union and the Allies over Nazi Germany at the end of World War II. “The next weekend is going to be very violent,” he said.
He confirmed there were plans for Odessa’s Jewish population to leave the city and even to flee Ukraine. “When there is shooting in the streets, the first plan is to take [the children] out of the center of the city,” he said. “If it gets worse, then we’ll take them out of the city. We have plans to take them both out of the city and even to a different country if necessary—plans which we prefer not to talk about, which we have in place.”
Kruskal’s comments were echoed by representatives of several other community organizations, who are in a state of high alert. Rabbi Avraham Wolf of the Chabad Hassidic community confirmed that if the situation deteriorated to a point where evacuation became necessary, “we have a number of plans ... We are in touch with authorities and with security services, and we do a situation check every half hour.”
Meanwhile, reports emerging in Ukrainian and Russian media raise serious charges that the Odessa massacre on Friday was a coldly planned act of state murder, far deadlier than initially reported. Odessa Regional Council Deputy Vadim Savenko alleged that 116 people, not 42 as initially claimed, were killed in the massacre. These charges were echoed by former Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev, who told Vzglyad: “According to our data, over a hundred died in the Trade Unions House. The police would not let anyone in, so as to hide the number of dead.”
The Kiev regime’s attempts to explain the fascists’ torching of Odessa’s Trade Unions House—claiming that they were provoked by pro-Russian protesters, aided by the police, who shot at pro-Kiev Right Sector protesters before the latter attacked and burned the Trade Unions House—also have come under scrutiny.
Videos posted online by the pro-Kiev protesters showed gunmen wearing red armbands shooting at the pro-Kiev protesters from positions controlled by Ukrainian riot police. This strongly suggests that the shooting on the pro-Kiev forces was a provocation organized by the Kiev regime, not by the pro-Russian protesters.
The riot police did not side with the pro-Russian protesters in Odessa, but with Kiev. They arrested none of the pro-Kiev thugs for assaulting the Trade Unions House, and arrested many pro-Russian demonstrators instead. No local police were arrested for aiding the pro-Russian forces.
The forces that shot at the pro-Kiev demonstration appear to have been working with police as allies of Kiev, seeking to provoke a bloody confrontation. There are also charges that many of the dead in the Trade Union House were not killed by a rampaging fire unleashed by the fascists’ throwing of Molotov cocktails, as initially claimed, but were murdered by Right Sector fighters and hooligans who broke into the building and carried out a massacre.
Graphic and disturbing photos taken inside the Trade Unions Hall after the massacre and published in Russian media appear to show that while some of the victims burned to death, others did not. One pregnant woman was found dead, apparently strangled, with her clothes intact in a room showing no fire or smoke damage. Another man appears to have been shot several times in the head. Several victims have gruesome burns but, grotesquely, only to their head and upper body—as if they were first killed and then parts of their bodies doused with gasoline and set alight. One woman appears to have been raped after which her upper body was set on fire.
The horrific violence of the Kiev regime’s fascist supporters is an indictment of the installation by the NATO powers of an unelected and unpopular regime in Kiev through a fascist-led putsch. As the Kiev regime continues its military operations to crush armed pro-Russian protesters in the Donetsk region of southeast Ukraine, it is preparing renewed bloodshed in Odessa, plunging Ukraine ever deeper into civil war and threatening a Russian military intervention against pro-Kiev forces. It has set the world on the edge of a global war.
The Kiev regime faces immense pressure from Washington and the European imperialist powers, from the banks and from its own fascist supporters to retain control of Odessa at all costs. “The possible loss of Odessa in the southwest and parts of eastern Ukraine could be catastrophic for the new government, leaving the country landlocked, cut off entirely from the Black Sea,” the Montreal Gazette noted yesterday.
The Washington, DC-based International Monetary Fund has threatened to withhold and renegotiate billion-dollar loans to Kiev, which faces bankruptcy, if it loses control of south and east Ukraine.
Above all, Washington and its European imperialist allies are pressing their puppet regime in Kiev to crush internal opposition. At a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, as the fascist massacre in Odessa proceeded, US President Barack Obama said: “The Ukrainian government has the right and the responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” Obama sickeningly praised Kiev for what he called its “self-restraint.”
The Odessa massacre also exposes the reactionary role of the US media, in particular, their dismissals of the significance of US support for fascist forces such as Right Sector and the Svoboda Party, which has several top ministers in the Kiev government.
New York Times journalist Andrew Higgins penned an article—titled “Among Ukraine’s Jews, the Bigger Worry is Putin, Not Pogroms”—to dismiss warnings of the role of fascists in the Kiev regime as “scaremongering” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Higgins approvingly cited the nomination of Jewish business oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky as governor of Dnipropetrovsk and Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh’s empty pledges to combat racism as proof of the benign intentions of the Kiev regime. The Odessa massacre on Friday and the escalating preparations for more bloodshed give the lie to this reactionary cover-up for the US puppet regime in Kiev.