Pro-Russians storm Odessa police station, PM slams local police

Pro-Russians storm Odessa police station, PM slams local police

Pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian police station in Odessa on Sunday and freed nearly 70 fellow activists as the country's leaders lamented a police force they said was widely undermined by graft or collaboration with separatists, Reuters reported.

Militants chanted "We will not forgive!" and "Russia!" as they smashed windows and broke down the gate at the compound two days after over 40 pro-Russian activists died in a blaze at a building they had occupied after clashes with pro-Kiev groups.

Odessa police said 67 activists were allowed to walk free.

Some officers were offered the black and orange St. George's ribbon, a Russian military insignia that has become a symbol of the revolt, and were cheered by the crowd of several hundred.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, speaking in the Black Sea port, was pointedly critical of the Odessa police: "If the law enforcement system in Odessa had worked not exclusively on the 'Seventh Kilometre' and had protected people, then these terrorist organisations would have been foiled," he said.

The Seventh Kilometre is an open market on the edge of Odessa, associated in the popular consciousness with the corruption and black market business that have blighted Ukraine's 23 years of post-Soviet independence.

Addressing hundreds of supporters of the Kiev authorities who gathered near the site of the blaze late on Sunday, newly appointed police chief Ivan Katerinchuk promised to bring those behind Friday's deaths to justice, whatever their allegiance: "Like you, I want to restore law and order to Ukraine," he said.

Friday's clashes were the deadliest since Moscow-oriented president Viktor Yanukovich was forced to flee in February and pro-Russian militants launched uprisings in the industrial east. They also marked the first serious disorder far to the west of those eastern areas, heralding possible trouble for Kiev.

Friday's deaths occurred after running clashes, involving petrol bombs and gunfire, between supporters and opponents of Moscow on the streets of Odessa, where the majority of people speak Russian. The pro-Russian activists were trapped in a building as it burned down.

"COLOSSAL PROBLEM"

Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said separatists had met resistance in Odessa but that police forces in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, focus of support for pro-Russian militants, were in disarray in the face of rebellion.

"In these regions ... there are whole structures working together with the terrorists," Turchinov said in a television interview, employing the term Kiev applies to anti-Kiev militants who have set up strongpoints in a string of eastern towns. "This is a colossal problem."

Turchinov said Russian special forces were working with success to destabilise Ukraine, helped by "guest stars from Transdniestria" - a breakaway territory in eastern Moldova, 50 km (30 miles) from Odessa, that hosts a Russian military base.

NATO commanders have warned that Russia might hope to control a swathe of southern and eastern Ukraine, including the annexed Crimea, all the way to the border with Transdniestria.

Outright civil war in Ukraine and the division of a country the size of France would have serious implications for countries around, not least for Russia and for NATO states bordering it.

As rebellion simmered, questions were raised about the ability of the army as well as police to confront insurgents.

Police in the eastern port of Mariupol said pro-Russian rebels posing as sympathisers had presented soldiers at a checkpoint with gifts of food.

"It turned out that the food contained a substance that induced sleep among the servicemen," the acting head of Mariupol criminal police department, Alexei Paniotov, said.

"After about half an hour, about 20 unidentified people arrived in three cars and, taking advantage of their helpless state, took them prisoner along with four automatic rifles, a grenade launcher, a machinegun and ammunition."

The five soldiers were freed after negotiations.

DIPLOMATIC MOVES

Yatseniuk dismissed Russian accusations that his government was provoking bloodshed in the east with an operation to restore Kiev's authority in a series of cities under rebel control.

"The process of dialogue had begun, only it was drowned out by the sound of shooting from automatic rifles of Russian production," he said.

There was renewed diplomatic activity on Sunday.

Russia said it would try to organise talks between Kiev and representatives from the south-east: "It appears that without external help the Kiev authorities are not capable of establishing such a dialogue," Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin told Rossiya-24 television.

Germany's foreign minister said he was pressing for a second international conference at Geneva to bring Russia and Ukraine together with the United States and European Union to settle the dispute. Moscow and Kiev accuse each other of wrecking a four-way accord to end the conflict signed at Geneva on April 17.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Ukraine crisis in a telephone call and stressed the importance of "effective international action" to reduce tension, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

A German government spokeswoman said they had also discussed a visit to Moscow on Wednesday by the head of the OSCE, the European security body which has been trying to mediate on the ground but saw some of its monitors held for a week by rebels.

Ukraine is divided between a largely Russian-speaking population in the industrial east and Ukrainian-speaking west, where more pro-European Union views prevail. Moscow says Russian-speakers face threats from Ukrainian nationalist militants, an accusation Kiev denies.

There were no signs of Ukrainian forces pushing their declared campaign to remove separatists from eastern cities including Kramatorsk, Donetsk and the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk.

Kiev is organising a presidential election for May 25.

However, as things stand, it would have trouble conducting the vote in many parts of the east, a circumstance that would allow Russia to declare any government emerging as bereft of legitimacy.

Russia denies ambitions to seize eastern Ukraine as it has annexed the Crimea peninsula but reserves the right to send troops to defend Russian-speakers if it deems necessary.

Separatists who have declared a "People's Republic of Donetsk" are planning a referendum on secession next Sunday.

The capital Kiev has remained quiet since the protests that forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia. But celebrations this week marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two could be a source of tension.

Uzbekistan aims to reboot its tourism industry
Uzbekistan aims to reboot its tourism industry
Turkey sees drastic fall in number of tourists from France
Turkey sees drastic fall in number of tourists from France
Number of Uzbek tourists visiting Turkey in April 2020 sharply down
Number of Uzbek tourists visiting Turkey in April 2020 sharply down
Loading Bars
Latest
Pedestrian bridge being constructed in Uzbekistan's Navoi city
Uzbekneftegaz continues to increase gas production in Uzbekistan's Bukhara region
Turkmenistan, Russia to sign memorandum on cooperation in energy sector
Iranian Foreign Ministry congratulates Azerbaijani people on Republic Day
Turkmenistan, OSCE discuss measures to combat terrorism financing
Azerbaijan increases import of cars from Turkey
Uzbekistan to build modern greenhouse in Tashkent region
Production in Azerbaijan's chemical industry grows
Oil production in Turkmenistan's Cheleken Peninsula grows
Iran launches first data center for satellite information
Uzbekistan simplifies entry procedure for foreign civil aviation operators
Azerbaijan’s Fostanpak to expand manufacturing of plastic products
Kazakhstan to supply locally produced electricity to Kyrgyzstan
Uzbekistan aims to reboot its tourism industry
Russian locomotives producer to send passenger wagons to Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan boosts import of grain and legumes from Turkey
Uzbekistan sales its share in hotel to Singaporean company
Azerbaijani president, first lady inaugurate Gobu Park-3 residential complex for IDPs (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, Belarus could arrange joint oil refining and sale
Deutsche Bank ready to expand presence in Turkmenistan
Georgian bank offers its shares in Uzbekistan
UAE allocates aid to Tajikistan to support its COVID-19 battle
Kazakhstan to up its renewable energy output before year-end
TAP intends to proceed with subsequent phases of market test
Kazakhstan’s oil producing company to buy welding equipment via tender
Turkmenistan, French Total discuss prospects for cooperation in oil, gas industry
Kazakhstan's national sea carrier reveals oil transportation volume via Caspian Sea
Kazakhstan slightly increases import of ready-made clothes from Turkey
Petrofac extends contract for Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project
Import of ready-made clothes by Azerbaijan from Turkey surges
Georgian government eyes to reduce budget expenditures
Commission for economic growth restoration set up in Kazakhstan
Iranian president: import of basic goods increases
Consumer spending on pharmaceutical products greatly increases in Azerbaijan
Turkey discloses details of Lapis Lazuli Route Agreement
Georgian banks may finish 2020 with losses
Azerbaijani oil prices slump
President Ilham Aliyev visits monument to Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan, Russia trade drops slightly in 1Q2020
Eurogas: Europe needs more integrated energy infrastructure
Overview of Azerbaijani manat against major currencies for 1Q2020
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva: May our independence last forever! May Almighty God bless our native Azerbaijan! (PHOTO)
Georgian Airways to launch charter flights to Amsterdam, Tel Aviv
Tehran former mayor elected new speaker of Iranian parliament
Turkey sees drastic fall in number of tourists from France
Georgia to subsidize mortgage loans to citizens
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary to buy DC motor via tender
Number of Uzbek tourists visiting Turkey in April 2020 sharply down
Uzbek Commodity Exchange receives record net profit
Kazakhstan's KazMunayGas to double its dividend payments for 2019
Number of Turkmen tourists visiting Turkey in April 2020 shrinks
President Ilham Aliyev: I am sure that our independence development will be continuous and Azerbaijan`s state independence will live forever (PHOTO)
MEDEF: Azerbaijani and French companies have tangible business opportunities in at least 4 sectors
Georgia negotiating with Czechia to resume direct flights
Volume of cargo transited from France through Turkey disclosed
Iran's gold industry needs support
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 23 times
Iranian government looks to sell shares on stock exchange
5 million beating hearts of Azercell! (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Geostat: Georgia increases fruit exports
US Secretary of State congratulates Azerbaijani people on Republic Day
Uzbek-Korean JV buys waterproofing materials via tender
Kyrgyzstan reports 74 new COVID-19 cases
New COVID-19 cases registered in Kazakhstan
S.Korea reports 79 more COVID-19 cases, 11,344 in total
Azerbaijan marks Republic Day
Chinese mainland reports no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases
Trump promises to veto FISA bill if it is passed by House of Representatives
English Premier League's coronavirus positive cases rise to 12
WHO reports daily increase in coronavirus cases worldwide by over 84,000
UK COVID-19 deaths hit 37,460 after another 412 patients die
Boeing restarts 737 Max factory in step to jet’s comeback
NASA, SpaceX postpone historic astronauts launch for weather reason
U.S. coronavirus deaths top 100,000 as country reopens
Singapore reports 533 new COVID-19 cases, 32,867 in total
US clamps down on waivers tied to Iran's nuclear cooperation
Trump threatens social media shutdown over Twitter fact-check label
Boeing cutting more than 12,000 U.S. jobs with thousands more planned
111-year-old woman recovers from coronavirus in Chile
Germany reports 362 new COVID-19 cases, total now at 179,364
Floods kill at least 285 in Kenya
Saudi Arabia registers 1,815 new COVID-19 cases
Putin gets invitation from UK's Johnson on coronavirus vaccine summit: Kremlin
Azerbaijan discloses number of coronavirus tests
EU needs to focus on Brexit negotiations - UK negotiator
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky makes phone call to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev
EU warns against overloading pandemic relief package for banks
175 Azerbaijani citizens returned via charter flight from Moscow to Baku (PHOTO)
France bans hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients
Netherlands reports 15 new COVID-19 deaths
Cement export from Turkey to Georgia down
Export of Turkish clothing to Uzbekistan falls significantly
Azerbaijan increases import of chemicals from Turkey since start of 2020
Turkmenistan's Turkmennebitonumleri launches gas station repair in Lebab region
Balance crumbles, as Iran's export to China drops, imports increase
Turkey's export of wood, furniture to Azerbaijan increases
Annual income of FINCA Azerbaijan Non-Bank Credit Organization soars
Georgia's furniture import from Turkey drops significantly
Turkey's export of ready-made clothing to Italy drops
Export of Turkish chemicals to Uzbekistan declines
All news