Ukraine crisis: Detainees freed even as PM accuses Russia of fomenting Odessa violence

Ukrainian police were forced to release 67 pro-Russian detainees who were arrested in the aftermath of Odessa violence on May 2, after an angry crowd of separatists vandalised the police headquarters, said reports on Monday.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: May 05, 2014, 11:58 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Kiev: Ukrainian police were forced to release 67 pro-Russian detainees who were arrested in the aftermath of Odessa violence on May 2, after an angry crowd of separatists vandalised the police headquarters, said reports on Monday.

Friday`s clashes in Odessa between pro-Ukraine and pro-Russian supporters resulted in a fire at Trade Unions Building, killing 42.

Sunday began as a silent day of mourning in Odessa but turned chaotic when hundreds of pro-Russian activists shouting chants of “Russia”, marched on the police headquarters. Some masked men shattered windows and doors open and entered the police station, demanding the detainees to be freed.

The Ukrainian police gave in to the pressure of protesters and 67 detainees walked free.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has blamed the country`s security services for not being able to rein in the deadly clashes that were allegedly sponsored by Russia.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Sunday in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, he said that the clashes and fire were a "part of a plan fomented by Russia to destroy Ukraine".
"Russia`s aim was to repeat in Odessa what is happening in the east of the country," the prime minister of the ex-Soviet republic added.

The PM earlier blamed the national security services for not being able to check the violence and said that those who could not tackle there responsibility will be fired.

He said that an investigation had been ordered into Odessa violence.

"These security forces are inefficient and they violated the law,"  the PM was quoted as saying as per a BBC report.

He added that the police chief of Odessa region had been sacked.

As Ukraine suffers from the increasingly vigorous protests from pro-Russian separatists in eastern cities, authorities have started operations against them to wrest back the control.

Ukraine`s National Security and Defence Council chief Andriy Parubiy on Sunday said that the military operations will be expanded in the towns where illegal activities are being carried out by extremists and terrorists.

After Russian takeover of Crimea, Ukraine`s eastern cities are facing a similar threat as the separatists who have arbitrarily declared the eastern city of Donetsk as "People`s Republic of Donetsk" are planning a referendum on secession on May 11.

Ukraine is in throes of crisis since Feb 22 ouster of ex-PM Viktor Yanukovych who fled to Russia after dozens were killed in Maidan clashes in Kiev.