MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) – Odessa regional councilman Vadim Savenko has accused the Ukrainian interim government of covering up the true death toll of last week's Odessa arson fire that allegedly killed 46 people.
The official said the actual number of people who perished in the trade union hall blaze stands at 116, with many more reported missing.
“According to our present assessments, there were 116 deaths … because, apart from the official number of 46 victims, many people are still unaccounted for. And we know exactly what happened to these people. They were simply put on the ‘missing’ list,” Savenko told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview.
The Odessa official said at least 20 anti-coup protesters had been killed in the clashes prior to the arson incident, and their bodies had been brought to the trade union center.
Savenko stressed that figures circulated by the media over the past few days had been provided by the Ukrainian Interior and Emergency Ministries, and their account of the event still leaves much room for doubt.
“For two days, they barred journalists and relatives from coming to identify the bodies. We can assume they spent this time covering up the crime that had been committed there,”
One of the photos uploaded to the Internet after the Odessa massacre showed one of the victims was a pregnant woman, who had been suffocated. “If you look at how the bodies lay there or at their wounds, you’ll notice bullet holes in their heads and pools of blood underneath,” Savenko noted.
“The majority of the people [who were blocked inside the trade union hall] have scorched torsos, heads and shoulders …They had gasoline poured over them after being shot dead and set on fire in a cover-up operation,” he told RIA Novosti.
Last Friday, Ukraine saw the bloodiest violence since the February overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, with dozens burnt to death inside a blocked House of Trade Unions in the southern port city of Odessa.
The clashes in Odessa broke out between federalization activists on one side and fans of the Odessa and Kharkiv football teams on the other, joined by Euromaidan activists. The anti-government protesters sought refuge inside the building that was then set on fire by pro-Kiev radicals.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the events a result of the “criminal irresponsibility of the Kiev leadership indulging insolent nationalist radicals, including Right Sector, who are staging a campaign of physical terror against supporters of federalization and real constitutional changes in Ukrainian society."