Ukrainian authorities are failing to adequately investigate 48 deaths, including of 42 pro-Russian protesters, in the Black Sea port of Odessa in May 2014, according to an international panel set up by the Council of Europe.
The demonstrators clashed with football fans and participants in a pro-government rally as the military conflict in Ukraine’s easternmost regions erupted following Russia’s annexation of nearby Crimea. Most of the deaths occurred after a building in which the protesters had barricaded themselves was set on fire.
“Despite the lapse of some 18 months after the events, not a single charge has been brought in respect of the deaths,” the panel said Wednesday in an e-mailed report. The body is tracking the investigation to check it meets the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.
The report is another blow to President Petro Poroshenko and his government as the U.S, the European Union and Ukraine’s own citizens demand more progress on promises of reform and a crackdown on corruption. Ukraine’s rulers have also failed to convict those responsible for more than 100 killings in the Kiev street protests that swept them to power a year and a half ago.
There’s evidence “revealing a comparable lack of confidence in the adequacy of the investigations and in the ability of the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for causing or contributing to the many deaths and injuries” in Odessa, said the panel. The investigation in Odessa, like the probe in Kiev, has “serious deficiencies in independence and effectiveness,” it said.