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    PACE Urges Speedy Investigation of May Tragedy in Ukraine's Odessa

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    The international community as well as the local authorities must provide complete assistance to the investigation of the tragic events in Odessa on May 2, which claimed at least 48 lives when anti-Kiev protesters were trapped in a burning administrative building, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said Wednesday.

    The international community as well as the local authorities must provide complete assistance to the investigation of the tragic events in Odessa on May 2, which claimed at least 48 lives when anti-Kiev protesters were trapped in a burning administrative building, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said Wednesday.

    "I welcome the work done on this issue by a group of civil society experts and journalists, which deserves the full support of the authorities and the international community, and urge the international community to provide expertise to assist the investigations," PACE co-rapporteur for the monitoring of Ukraine Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin (Sweden) said, outlining her four-day visit to Kiev and Odessa.

    “The local population is asking many questions about these events, which need clear answers in order to avoid distrust and possible tension," De Pourbaix-Lundin said, focusing on the visit to Odessa.

    The PACE co-rapporteur also insisted an "inquiry into the more than 100 deaths [during Euro]Maidan in Kiev must also be vigorously pursued."

    On May 2, clashes in Odessa broke out between pro-federalization activists and fans of the Odessa and Kharkiv football teams, later joined by Euromaidan activists.

    Pro-Kiev radicals joined by Right Sector gunmen blocked the anti-government protesters in the House of Trade Unions and set the building on fire with the help of Molotov cocktails. Those trapped inside had little chance of extinguishing the blaze, as the fire hoses in the building were out of order.

    At least 48 people died, and over 200 were injured. The interim government in Kiev has been accused by local officials of covering up the actual death toll of at least 116.

    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.

    The situation in Ukraine and its humanitarian implications were the focal point of the June session at PACE, addressed by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko. The Russian delegation did not attend the April session, as PACE voted to deprive it of the right to vote and ban it from participating in PACE’s ruling bodies and monitoring missions until the end of the year over Crimea's reunification with Russia.

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