KIEV: Ukraine’s unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on Tuesday supported a draft resolution to establish a provisional special commission to investigate mass murders of civilians in the cities of Odessa, Mariupol and Krasnoarmeysk in eastern Ukraine.
With 226 votes required, 263 deputies voted for the draft. Party of Regions deputy from the southern Ukrainian Odessa Region, Anton Kisse, is expected to be appointed commission head. The activity report will be heard at the Rada’s plenary session not later than June 15, 2014.
Massive protests against the new Ukrainian authorities, who were propelled to power in Kiev amid riots during a coup in the country in February, erupted in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking southeastern territories after the secession of the Crimean Peninsula, which declared independence on March 11 and joined Russia on March 18 following a referendum.
Southeastern Ukrainian protesters demanding broader powers for their regions have seized some government buildings.
The Kiev authorities have been conducting what they call an antiterrorism operation in eastern Ukraine. Russia, which does not recognize the de facto Ukrainian leaders, has condemned the operation, apparently aimed to clamp down on Ukrainian nationals supporting federalization.
At least 48 people died and more than 200 were injured on May 2 in clashes and a fire in Odessa after radicals set ablaze the Trade Unions House, where pro-federalization activists hid, and a tent camp where activists were collecting signatures for a referendum on federalization and for the status of a state language for Russian.
In Mariupol in the Donetsk Region, Ukrainian law enforcers opened fire from armored vehicles on participants of a rally held in honor of Victory Day on May 9 who gathered near the building of the local Interior Ministry department and who were trying to prevent its storm. Nine people died and 42 were injured.
Two people were reportedly killed in Krasnoarmeysk, according to the authors of the resolution on a special investigation commission.
Meanwhile, a number of politicians have said the Kiev authorities are deliberately understating the Odessa death toll, which, the politicians say, could reach 116. Deputy Oleg Tsaryov said at least 40 people were killed in Mariupol.
The eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. PNA