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Clashes Erupt After Acquittals In Trial Over Deadly 2014 Violence In Odesa, Ukraine


Scores of people died in a blaze in Odesa in may 2014 that was apparently set off by firebombs thrown inside a building where they had sought refuge amid street fighting. (file photo)

Police in Ukraine are investigating clashes that broke out on September 18 after a court acquitted 19 defendants who were tried over deadly violence between pro-Russian and Ukrainian activists in the southern city of Odesa in May 2014.

Police used tear gas to disperse some 100 activists protesting the acquittals at a court in Chornomorsk, the town near Odesa where the trial was held.

Ruslan Forostyak, adviser to the Odesa regional police chief, said on September 19 that 20 police officers and 15 officers of the National Guard were injured.

Outside of eastern Ukraine, where a war that broke out in April 2014 has killed more than 10,000 people, the May 2, 2014 unrest in Odesa was the deadliest violence to erupt in connection with Russia-backed efforts to foment separatism in Ukraine after Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed from power by protests that February.

A total of 48 people were killed in Odesa that day, most of them in a blaze that was apparently set off by firebombs thrown inside a building where they had sought refuge amid the street fighting. Russia and Ukraine have blamed one another for the violence and deaths.

The 19 people who were acquitted had been charged with inciting clashes on Odesa's Hretska Square that led to the death of six people.

Two of the acquitted, a Russian and a Ukrainian, were rearrested shortly after the hearing and charged with separatism.

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