Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin has called for a full investigation into the deaths in clashes in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, and said that ensuring order in Ukraine is primarily the responsibility of the government in Kyiv and in particular the authorities in Odessa.
Vigenin, who holds the foreign ministry portfolio in the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, was speaking to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on May 3, a day after violence in Odessa led to the deaths reportedly of more than 40 people.
Calling for a full investigation into the violence, Vigenin said that there should be “no mercy for the killers”.
“I expect that urgent action be taken so that the unrest and violence of yesterday will not spread to other cities in the area because it would destabilise the area and in this case affect areas where the most Bulgarians live,” Vigenin said.
He called for for more restraint, understanding and dialogue in order to stop the provocations from all sides.
No Bulgarians had been killed or injured in the events in Ukraine on May 2 and the Foreign Ministry was continually monitoring the situation, Vigenin said.
“What happened yesterday in Odessa is monstrous and is subject to the strongest condemnation. I would like to express on my behalf and on behalf of Bulgaria our most sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the victims,” Vigenin said.
On May 3, the Voice of America reported that Ukrainian forces moved into Kramatorsk, a town about 17 kilometres south of Slovyansk, where the offensive began on May 2.
Vasil Krutov, the head of Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Center, reported heavy fighting and casualties but could not offer specifics about how many people were killed or wounded. At a news conference in Kyiv, Krutov said the confrontation in Kramatorsk was developing into a protracted military conflict.
Unfortunately, he said, Ukrainian forces are facing “a very serious aggressor.”
“What’s happening in Donetsk and across the eastern region is not just a planned short-term action,” Krutov told reporters. “It’s actually war.”, VOANews reported.
Dozens of Russian Mig- 29 and Su- 27 fighter aircraft, and Tu- 22 bombers were noticed in Crimea, reports inforesist.org, a website operated by Ukrainian military expert and blogger Dmitry Tymchuk, the Kyiv Post reported.
Ukrainian state-owned news agency Ukrinform reported that the Russian aircraft were re-deployed due to the “situation in southeastern Ukraine”. They were moved from a Simferopol district airbase toward the western coast of the peninsula
Ukraine’s Security Service has stated that it expects increased Russian-backed subversive activity in Ukraine beyond Donetsk and Luhansk.
Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev sent a telegram of condolence to the acting president of Ukraine and Verkhovna Rada Chairman Alexander Tyurchinov regarding victims of riots in Odessa, the head of state’s media office said
“I strongly condemn any act of violence that threatens peace and leads to acts of brutality and casualties,” Plevneliev said, expressing his and the Bulgarian people’s condolences on the deaths.
“I sincerely hope that those responsible for the violence and unrest will be found and punished to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
Plevneliev called on the parties to the conflict to refrain from provocations and work for the restoration of law and order in the name of peace and security of citizens both in Odessa and throughout the country.
“I take this opportunity to again express solidarity with Ukrainian society and I believe that the people of Ukraine alone will choose the path of development of the country through fair and democratic elections,” Plevneliev said.
Sergei Stanishev, leader of the BSP, said in a Facebook comment that he was “shocked” by the gloomy news coming from Ukraine.
He cited media in saying that “more than 40 peaceful, unarmed civilians were killed in Odessa by asphyxiating or being forced to jump from windows in an attacky by extreme nationalists of the Right Sector and other extremists”.
“No political objective justifies the brutal killing of peaceful people,” Stanishev said.
He said that it was obligatory for the authorities in Kyiv “to show responsibility and to put a muzzle on the rampant fighting formations of the Right Sector,” the BSP leader said.
Stanishev reiterated the BSP’s position, of dialogue, opposition to economic sanctions against Russia and the protection of the Bulgarians in Ukraine.
The Kyiv Post reported that preliminary findings from a Ukrainian Interior Ministry investigation suggest that pro-Russian separatists in Odessa accidentally set the trade union building on fire with Molotov cocktails.
According to an Interior Ministry statement, separatists on May 2 broke into the trade union building and barricaded themselves inside. They then from the roof started throwing Molotov cocktails and shooting with firearms at “peaceful citizens.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is strongly condemning the continuing violence in Ukraine, and he says Russia will face tougher economic sanctions if it does not stop trying to interfere with elections called by the Kyiv government. Kerry is on a trip through Africa; he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Saturday about the situation in Ukraine.
He said the U.S. and Russia both will be in touch with Swiss authorities to see whether and how the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe can do more to reduce tensions in Ukraine. He deplored violence by both sides, including those who carried out an arson attack in Odessa Friday that killed dozens of people.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s version of the Kerry-Lavrov talks, in a statement issued in Moscow, said Lavrov told Kerry that the U.S. should press Ukraine’s government to immediately halt its military operations in southeast Ukraine.
Lavrov said he and Kerry agreed that efforts to broaden the OSCE’s role in Ukraine are the right course to follow now.
(Main photo: Pro-Russian activists clash with local soccer fans and pro-Ukrainian citizens in Odessa on May 2. Photo: EuroMaidanPR Facebook)