After pro-government attackers burned a protester building in Odessa Friday, killing at least 38 people within, Odessa police responded with mass arrests of 67 of the surviving protesters, who they blamed for stirring “unrest.”
They didn’t stay arrested long, however, as the protesters marched on the police headquarters and stormed the building, smashing windows and forcing open gates.
The police relented, and released the detainees, though they say the charges against them have not been dropped. Ukraine’s interim PM was in Odessa today, and was harshly critical of the police, saying they should’ve moved against the protesters, who they dubbed “terrorist organizations.”
The police appeared much less interested in moving against the Right Sector and other ultranationalist organizations, which set the fire on the protest headquarters and opened fire on those trying to escape.
Odessa hadn’t been a major part of the protest movement, which has dominated the east, but the growing fury over the deadly fire, and the government’s reaction to it being a crackdown against the selfsame protest movement whose members were targeted in the fire, seems to be uniting protesters in the city.
The situation in Odessa remains extremely tense and unsettled, and the PM’s comments suggest they remain set on a course of confrontation against the protest movement, meaning the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.