MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday Ukrainian investigators probing the deadly arson fire in Odessa on May 2 could make use of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
"We are convinced that it is totally possible and necessary to use the possibilities of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, given the facts that emerge and need to be analyzed and double-checked, [facts] about poisonous gas used in the Trade Unions House,” Lavrov said.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s southern city of Odessa saw the bloodiest episode of violence since the start of the crisis in the country in February. A fire at the city’s Trade Unions House that followed clashes between pro-federalization activists on one side and fans of the Odessa and Kharkiv football teams on the other claimed the lives of 48 people, with most of the victims dying of smoke inhalation or after jumping out of windows.
Six died of bullet wounds, 32 suffocated, and 10 fell to their death by jumping through the windows of the burning building. Another 214 were injured. According to reports, another 48 could still be missing.
No plausible explanation has been offered for the fact that many of those who died did not try to take refuge on upper floors or the roof, prompting rumors that they were poisoned by an unknown chemical.
Last week, Human Rights Watch said the Odessa massacre constituted a grave crime that demanded a serious, impartial, and thorough investigation.
HRW Deputy Director in Central Europe and Asia Rachel Denber said the Ukrainian government has a “tendency to absolve the pro-unity side of wrongdoing,” which she said did not “inspire confidence” in the investigation.