Ukrainians yesterday marked five years since 48 people died in violent street battles and a fire in Odessa as the UN criticised the authorities for failing to ensure justice for the victims.
Violent clashes between supporters and critics of Russia broke out in the multi-ethnic Black Sea port on May 2, 2014 after Moscow annexed Crimea and supported Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Six men were shot dead in the city centre and 42 people - mostly pro-Russian activists - died as a result of a fire in a besieged trade union building.
Nearly 250 people were injured.
Yesterday, thousands of mourners flocked to the trade union building to lay flowers and light candles in memory of the victims.
“Bring the perpetrators to justice!” said one of the posters at the scene.
Authorities heightened security in the southern city, with some 2,500 policemen patrolling the streets.
Speaking to reporters in Odessa, first deputy interior minister Sergiy Yarovy warned that “some forces will try to destabilise the situation”.
In a report released yesterday, the United Nations criticised the Ukrainian authorities for failing to ensure justice for the victims of the deadly riots and their families.
“No one has been held responsible for the acts of killing and violence,” the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said in the report.
“Accountability for crimes and access to justice for all is essential to establish public trust in the judiciary and the rule of law, and may serve as a bedrock for reconciliation and social cohesion.”
The mission urged the Kiev authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation and identify individuals responsible for the fire.
Some suspects managed to flee and allegedly received Russian citizenship, the mission added.
Moscow has repeatedly criticised Kiev’s handling of the probe into the tragedy.