May 2nd Tragedy in Odessa. Reconstruction. Part 2: Confrontation

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The previous parts can be read here:

So what didn’t go according to plan?

In reality the events on May 2, 2014, went not according to the plan practically from the very beginning. Thus, soon after the gathering on Aleksandrovsky avenue, the fighting group of “Kulikovko members” receives information that nearby, in the yard of the office of Council of Public Security on 36 Zhukovsky Street there are people with arms. Activists arrive near the building and try to get inside. In front of the gate a police cordon is immediately built.

[The yard on Zhukovsky Street, where the office of the patriotic organizations were based]

The matter is that indeed inside there are armed people: it is a kind of “reserve” of Euromaidan. Its task is the quelling of the armed resistance of “Kulikovo members” if they, contrary to the plan, will nevertheless render it. In order so that it didn’t occur, by the way, everything necessary was done: thus, on the morning on May 2nd the police carefully searched the tent town regarding the existence of weapons…

According to another version of events, this place for the gathering of those “euromaidan protesters” who had firearms was appointed especially to prevent unauthorized shooting, which is obviously not included in the “Nikolaev scenario”.

Anyway, the police quickly comes to the place of events and surrounds the building. Law enforcement authorities refuse all appeals of “Kulikovo members” to check information about the existence in the building of weapons: they perfectly know that there are arms there, but they don’t have the order to react to this.

Meanwhile time passes, and the situation starts being behind schedule. It is already 15:00, the column of “euromaidan protesters” from the Sobornaya square has to move forward towards Chernomorets stadium. However “Kulikovo members” are not at all where they have to be. If the “euromaidan protesters” will move according to the plan, the two columns won’t cross each other’s path, and the plan on blocking-off “Kulikovo members” in the center of Odessa will be disrupted. And “euromaidan protesters” on Sobornaya several times postpone the beginning of the march.

Only at about 15:15 did “Kulikovo members”, having succumbed to the persuasions of the deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Odessa region Dmitry Fuchedzhi, leave Zhukovsky Street and go towards Deribasovskaya Street. The situation seems to come back to the framework of the scenario. On Sobornaya square “euromaidan protesters” start forming a column for march.

Judging by all of this, as a place of “rendezvous” of the two groups the intersection of Deribasovskaya and Ekaterininskaya Street is chosen. At least, police officers in any way possible obstruct the movement of “Kulikovo members” at this point: in the video it is possible to see that the deputy chief of police Dmitry Fuchedzhi quite peacefully goes near the commander of the column Dolzhenkov.

[Beginning of the march of the Antimaidan column]

The column already approaches the intersection (15:25), and at this time they are overtaken by a group of police officers, including fighters of the battalion of special forces (former “Berkut”). Law enforcement officers are arranged into two lines, cutting-off the way for “Kulikovo members” to Deribasovskaya street.

Before some tens of meters of the cordon Dolzhenkov orders: “Column, stop!” Most likely, he understands that “Kulikovo members” entered a trap, and tries to bring them out of it. And this is one of those acts that specifies that he, at least, wasn’t the conscious performer of the “Nikolaev scenario”.

After a short-term (literally 1-2 seconds) stop, the column of “Kulikovo members” u-turns and begins movement (at first at a fast pace, and then running) along Grecheskaya Street towards the Sobornaya square, where there are “euromaidan protesters”. The policemen who blocked Ekaterininskaya Street rush after them. The policemen who had to protect the march of “euromaidan protesters”, and also activists of “Self-defense” and “ultras“, rush from Sobornaya square in the mirroring direction.

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It is still possible to save the plan: eventually, “Kulikovo members” can be blocked-off also on Grecheskaya Street. It’s true that there it is much more difficult to do it: it isn’t enough to block-off Grecheskaya Street itself (which, by the way, law enforcement officers did), it is also necessary to block-off the approaches through the Vice Admiral Zhukov Lane, and also from Grecheskaya Square — through Afina Shopping Center and bypassing the building. The police, as a result, didn’t have enough forces to fully realize this task.

The first clashes happen at around 15:30 ten meters from the intersection of Grecheskaya and Preobrazhenskaya Street: here the advanced “Kulikovo members” and separate “ultras”, who ran out towards them from Sobornaya square, clash. Police officers manage to separate the sides, not allowing direct contact. Through the line of policemen the sides throw at each other stones, petards (as well as those equipped with striking elements in the form of wire scraps), smoke grenades, and Molotov cocktails. Both sides use unidentified firearms — most likely, primarily traumatic and revolvers with Flaubert’s cartridges. It should be noted that, contrary to the statements of a number of publicists of the “Euromaidan” kind, people on Sobornaya square are very far from being defined as “participants of a peaceful march”: many of them are armed with bludgeons, bats, and protective equipment. Those incendiary mixtures are prepared in advance etc — however, it had to be like that, because after the march these people planned to go on Kulikovo field to smash-up the tent town.

The group of “Kulikovo members” on the still-not blocked Vice Admiral Zhukov Lane comes to Deribasovskaya Street and goes towards Sobornaya Square. They almost manage to reach their aim, however they come across a group of policemen from those who had to protect the march of “euromaidan protesters”. The policemen are commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Pasechnikov who rather easily convinces “Kulikovo members” to return to the main forces on Grecheskaya Street. “Euromaidan protesters” and “ultras” rush behind the retreating “Kulikovo members”. Skirmishes and fights take place. The urgently deployed group of policemen blocks Vice Admiral Zhukov Lane, allowing “Kulikovo members” to join their own.

At around 16:00 (a more exact time isn’t possible to establish because law enforcement authorities refuse to publish data from cameras of external observation), a minibus Ford Transit with a State license plate AN 6852 EO arrives at the place of events. In it there are members of the so-called mobile group of Kulikovo field under the command of Vitaly “Botsman” Budko armed with an object similar to a AKS-74U.

Botsman himself persuades “Kulikovo members” that the machine gun shoots rubber bullets. Later he will state that the machine gun in general was fake and shot blanks. Having arrived to the intersection of Grecheskaya Street and Vice Admiral Azarov Lane, Budko goes to the place of clashes and fires some shots towards the attacking “Euromaidan protesters”. Approximately at this time the activist of “Right Sector” Igor Ivanov receives a fatal wound by a bullet of caliber 5.45.

According to the official version of events, Ivanov became the first victim on May 2nd. Also it is claimed that Ivanov’s wound was the first result of the use of firearms that day. Approximately at the same time, although a bit later, a fatal wound from a large-caliber bullet fired from an undetermined weapon is received by Andrey Biryukov.

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So, the first person killed on May 2nd was killed by Botsman?

It is exactly this that the official version of events sounds like, and it is logical to come to this conclusion, having analysed the aforementioned facts — including the almost exact coincidence of the time of Ivanov’s death and the appearance of Botsman-Budko at a place of events. This version of events is supported also by the fact that in Ivanov’s body a bullet of caliber 5.45 was found, because if Botsman was really armed with a carbine akin to a AKS-74U (for example, a “Vulcan” carbine), then his weapon must use cartridges of such caliber.

However, Botsman himself categorically refutes this version of events, refusing to recognize that he opened fire with live ammunition. On the other hand, what else can he say?

Unfortunately, the police investigation into this episode of events on May 2nd (as, by the way, into other episodes of the tragedy) was carried out very badly. For example, the general examination of the bullet was very carelessly executed: in fact, the expert noted that this bullet could be fired from a “Vulcan” carbine, and later on this basis he comes to the conclusion that it was indeed fired from this, which, of course, is clutching at straws.

The most interesting thing is in the fact that the verification of this bullet on the bullet database of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which had to define specifically what weapon this bullet was fired from, gave nothing. Most likely, it concerns a certain illegal weapon that wasn’t registered in a manner established by the law — among other things, it can mean that it was definitely not fired from a legal “Vulcan” carbine, which was owned legally by “Botsman”. However, another explanation is also possible: the negligence of Ukrainian law enforcement bodies in the registration of legal firearms is widely known. It isn’t excluded that the lack of coincidence is explained simply by the fact that the real samples of bullets of “Botsman’s” carbine wasn’t present in this database!

Anyway, even if tomorrow somehow Botsman will fall into the hands of the Ukrainian law enforcement authorities and will appear before the court charged with Ivanov’s murder, he has every chance to get off scot-free. It will be enough for him to state that on May 2nd he really shot from a “Vulcan” carbine, however he fired over heads for the psychological effect. As it is known, all doubts are interpreted in favor of the accused, and law enforcement authorities have no proof that the fatal bullet was fired precisely by him or that it was at least fired from a weapon belonging to him.

At the same time, until there is evidence of the existence at around 16:10 on May 2nd in Vice Admiral Zhukov Lane of another weapon of a caliber of 5.45 from which shots were fired towards “euromaidan protesters“, it is Botsman who remains the main suspect in Ivanov’s murder.

But “euromaidan protesters” were the first to die?

So the official version of events says, which was supported also by members of “Group of May 2nd”. Moreover, it is precisely this statement that occupies a key place in the argument of those who try to place all responsibility for the incident (or at least the main part) on activists of Kulikovo field: allegedly, it is only after Ivanov and Biryukov’s deaths that “Maidan protesters” started using firearms against opponents.

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Above we already wrote that the certain objects similar to firearms were used by both sides from the very beginning of the clashes. However, using just video it is almost impossible to establish what weapon it was exactly (live, traumatic, air). In the case of Ivanov and Biryukov we, at least, know: they were wounded by weapons capable of killing. But were their deaths the first ones?

The moments Ivanov and Biryukov received their fatal wounds are determined rather precisely: it happened at around 16:10 and 16:20, respectively. As for the dead “Kulikovo members” on Grecheskaya Street, here everything isn’t so unambiguous. We recall that they were four: Aleksandr Zhulkov, Nikolay Yavorsky, Evgeny Losinsky, Gennady Petrov. The first three received wounds similar to pellets, near Grecheskaya Square — i.e. no earlier than 16:45-16:50 when “Kulikovo members” were pushed aside from Vice Admiral Azarov Lane. The time of Losinsky’s wound, for example, is known rather precisely: at approximately 17:45 he, who obviously was just wounded, is carried aside by comrades (this moment is shown on video).

It is possible to assume that approximately at the same time (17:30 — 17:50) Zhulkov and Yavorsky were wounded. Although this fact can’t also be considered completely established, one thing is clear: they were wounded already after 16:50.

Everything is more difficult with Gennady Petrov: he was wounded by a bullet of caliber of 5.6 millimeters, which is also fired from a certain undetermined weapon (allegedly — from a sports rifle).

But when did it happen? “Group of May 2nd” believe that he was wounded at the same time — between 17:30 and 17:50. This assumption is made on the grounds that approximately at this time in the video it can be seen how Petrov is given first aid near the Antoshka supermarket. It can mean that he was wounded approximately at this time — but it can also not mean this.

For example, Ivanov, wounded at about 16:10, was given first aid near the intersection of Deribasovskaya and Preobrazhenskaya Street already at around 16:28, after which he was taken away by ambulance, and he died already in the hospital. A similar story happened to Evgeny Losinsky. Petrov didn’t live up to the arrival of the ambulance — but how much time passed between his wound and death, the moment of which, by the way, isn’t definitely determined? For example, it is known that he died from blood loss — but what how long did this blood loss last for?

By the way, the “Group of May 2nd” has at its disposal a document, invaluable in terms of importance — the log book of calls of ambulances on Grecheskaya Street and in its vicinity. The detailed analysis of this document, perhaps, would allow to establish more precisely valuable facts about the sequence of events in the center of Odessa on May 2nd, 2014, including also to shed light on questions about the first use of lethal firearms. However members of this group for some reason prefer not to publish this document.

Anyway, so far there are no grounds to claim that any of the participants of events received on May 2nd gunshot wounds before Ivanov and Biryukov. Although to consider this matter completely closed, for the above reasons, mustn’t be done.

May 2nd Tragedy in Odessa. Reconstruction. Part 3: Kulikovo Field

May 2nd Tragedy in Odessa. Reconstruction. Part 4: Denouement

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