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At least 41 killed in Odessa, most in arson fire, some in street clashes; 123 injured

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May 3, 2014, 12:36 a.m. | Ukraine — by Kyiv Post

Students from the Eastern and Western parts of the country hold the reportedly biggest Ukrainian flag of the world ( 60 m meters length, 40 m in width) during an action in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on May 2, 2014 in support of a "United Ukraine". AFP PHOTO/ YURIY DYACHYSHYN
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Editor's Note: Early on May 2, an anti-terrorist operation initiated by the Ukrainian government resumed in Sloviansk, a Donetsk Oblast city of 125,000 people that has been occupied by Russian-backed armed insurgents since April 12. The insurgents also hold administrative buildings in more than a dozen other cities in Donetsk Oblast and in Luhansk. The anti-terrorist operation that aims to liberate the east resumed on April 22 after it had been suspended for several days due to an April 17 Geneva agreement to de-escatate the situation reached by Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States.

Two more Ukrainian soldiers killed near Sloviansk

May 2, 10:40 p.m. -- A group of armed extremists attacked the soldiers of 95th aviation squadron of Ukrainian army in Andriyivka village near Sloviansk. As of 9:30 p.m. the fighting was on. Defense Ministry reports two soldiers killed.

At least 41 dead in clashes in Odessa

May 2, 10:20 p.m. -- At least 41 people died in clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters in Odessa and another 123 were injured.

Four people were killed during the street clashes, while the rest were killed when the House of Union building was set on fire after pro-Russian protesters occupied it. Most of them died of smoke, several from jumping out of the windows, police said. 

Another activist kidnapped in Horlivka

May 2, 21:35 p.m. -- Basile d'Budic, a Georgian citizen and a pro-Ukrainian activist, was captured by a group of masked and armed men in Horlivka near the store at 44 Krasnoshapki Str, according to Svoboda party's member Maja Kalnash. As she wrote on her Facebook page, d'Budic was pushed into the car and taken in the unknown direction. His whereabouts are unknown.

Turchynov: Many dead among insurgents in Sloviansk

May 2, 5:45 p.m. -- Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said the Ukrainian forces' attack on the checkpoints in Sloviansk on May 2 left "many insurgents dead, wounded and arrested."

"The operation doesn't unroll as fast as we want it to, and is significantly complicated by the fact that the terrorists' bases are located in the crowded cities and the terrorists themselves hide behind the civilians, take hostages and shoot from the windows of apartment buildings," Turchynov said.

According to Turchynov, a group of Russian terrorists was stopped by Ukrainian border guards when it tried to get into Ukraine on the night of May 1.

The soldiers who succeeded in the operation will be rewarded by the president elected on May 25, as the interim president has no authority to do that, Turchynov added.

"The offensive on the terrorists goes on," said Turchynov.

Ukrainian soldiers stand at a checkpoint they seized in the early morning in the village of Andreevka, 7 km from the center of the southern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014. Ukraine's military lost two helicopters and two servicemen on May 2 in a deadly offensive launched just before dawn against pro-Russian rebels holding the flashpoint town of Slavyansk, insurgents and authorities said. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV

One protester reportedly killed in Odessa

May 2, 4:55 p.m. -- One person was reportedly killed in a standoff between participants of pro-Ukrainian rally and pro-Russian activists that attacked them in Odessa. The killing is reported by Odessa news website www.o1.ua. The body lies on the ground, covered by Ukrainian flag. Channel 5 reported that up to 20 people were injured.

Photo by www.o1.ua.

Kyiv denies accusations of non-fulfilling Geneva accords

May 2, 4:45 p.m. -- The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has denied Russia's accusations of not fulfilling the Geneva agreements of April 17.

"We reject Russia's attempts to accuse Kyiv of allegedly not fulfilling the agreements. We state that despite calls of the international community, the Russian Federation has taken no steps to de-escalate the situation and fulfill the Geneva agreements," the ministry said in a statement on May 2.

"Russia strongly supports the terrorist groups that operate in the eastern regions of Ukraine, endangering civilians, seizing hostages and building the atmosphere of terror and violence," the ministry also said.

AntiMaidan attacks pro-Ukrainian rally in Odessa

May 2, 4:20 p.m. -- Several hundred of pro-Russian activists attacked the rally for Ukraine's unity in Odessa. The rally gathered some 1,000 participants, most of them being the fans of local football team.

The pro-Ukrainian protesters fought back.

Pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters clash in the street of Odessa on May 2. (www.crime.in.ua)
A young man gets wounded as pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters clash in the street of Odessa on May 2. (www.crime.in.ua)

Shots were fired, and some noise grenades were used in the clash. Police was seen interfering in the clash. Live stream showed at least one person severely injured.

Live stream of the clash in Odessa can be found here.

Separatists deny that Ukrainian forces took over Sloviansk

May 2, 4:12 p.m. -- The pro-Russian protesters in Sloviansk are keeping almost the entire city under control except several streets in the suburbs, a source from the self-defense headquarters told Interfax.

"The security forces controlled by Kyiv have failed to take the city but have taken only a couple of streets in the suburbs. The city itself is still fully controlled by the self-defense forces," he said.

Shooting is still heard in the city, but no large-scale combat activities are under way now, he said.

An armed pro-Russian man walks past burning debris at a checkpoint in the southern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on May 2, 2014. Ukraine's military lost two helicopters and two servicemen on May 2 in a deadly offensive launched just before dawn against pro-Russian rebels holding the flashpoint town of Slavyansk, insurgents and authorities said. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV

Insurgents release journalists captured in Sloviansk

May 2, 3:15 p.m. -- Three teams of journalists, including the crews of SkyNews, BuzzFeed and CBS were released in the afternoon of May 2 after spending several hours in captivity.

According to BuzzFeed reporter Mike Giglio, who was taken captive with his Ukrainian tranlator Olena Glazunova, the reporters were held captive in the occupied central police office of Sloviansk for three hours before they were released. The insurgents took them captive as the journalists were on their way to Sloviansk.

Reuters: EU watches eastern Ukraine 'with growing concern'

May 2, 3 p.m. -- The European Union said it was watching events in eastern Ukraine with growing concern, calling on pro-Russian separatists to leave occupied buildings and release people they were holding. "We are following with growing concern the events in eastern Ukraine," Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters.

National Guard: Sloviansk almost cleared

May 2, 2:40 p.m. -- Ukrainian National Guard Commander Stepan Poltorak has said that the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast has been practically cleared of terrorists.

"Through their professional actions, National Guard soldiers have practically cleared Sloviansk of the terrorists, many of whom were professionally trained," the Ukrainian Interior Ministry quoted him as saying on Friday. 

Russia's Foreign Ministry demands to stop military operation

May 2, 2:40 p.m. -- Russia's Foreign Ministry called on the West to give up the "destructive" policy on Ukraine and urged Kyiv to stop the "punitive operation" in the east of the country.

"This will allow a real process of de-escalation to begin," the ministry said in a statement.

Suspects in shooting helicopters detained

May 2, 1:30 p.m. -- Four insurgents from a roadblock in Sloviansk were detained by Ukrainian law enforcers. The men are suspected in shooting at the Ukrainian military helicopter earlier in the day.

Photo released by Defense Ministry of Ukraine shows four insurgents suspected of shooting at Ukrainian military helicopter detained.

In the morning of May 2 the pro-Russian insurgents of Sloviansk have brought down two Ukrainian military helicopters, using rocket launchers, and opened gunfire at another helicopter.

Putin's spokesman condemns operation in Sloviansk

May 2, 1 p.m. -- Dmitriy Peskov, spokesman of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told RIA Novosti that the military operation that Ukrainian authorities conducted in Sloviansk 

"While Russia is taking steps to de-escalate the conflict, Kyiv authorities have launched a punitive operation that destroyed the last hope for Geneva Accords to be effective," Peskov said.

One insurgent dead, one wounded

May 2, 11:51 a.m. -- One insurgent was killed and one was wounded in Sloviansk during the Ukrainian military operation on the morning of May 2, press secretary for Sloviansk insurgents Svitlana Khorosheva told Slavgorod.com.ua website.

Insurgents' leader in Sloviansk asks citizens to stay home

May 2, 11:40 a.m. -- Self-proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk Vycheslav Ponomariov released a video address to local citizens, asking the women and children to stay home, the men who have weapons to help defend the city from Ukrainian army.

"We were attacked. Our city is sieged, there are losses," Ponomariov says. "I think we will defend the city. Thank you for attention, thank you for help. We will win."

Two Ukrainian soldiers killed

May 2, 11 a.m. -- Defense Ministry informed that two soldiers of Ukrainian army were killed in Sloviansk during an operation that meant to block the city. The count of helicopters taken down has rised to two. Earlier it was reported that one helicopter was down and one has crash-landed in Sloviansk.

The army has blocked the entrances to Sloviansk and has retaken the local TV tower from the insurgents.

A video showing second Ukrainian helicopter being shot down and capturing some of the locals' reaction to it:

Expert warns of provocations with casualties

May 2, 10:50 a.m. -- Former soldier and military expert Dmitry Tymchuk, who runs the Kyiv-based Center of Military and Political Research, has warned that the insurgents in Sloviansk plan to stage a provocation, leaving some people dead, to imitate the "crimes" of Ukrainian military. 

The provocation was planned on May 1, wrote Tymchuk, and originally meant to imitate the attack of the Right Sector, the militant nationalist group that is often mentioned by Russian media and officials as a dangerous anti-Russian group.

Insurgents call citizens to appeal to Putin for help

May 2, 10:30 a.m. -- Separatists' ham radio has called citizens of Sloviansk to come to the main square and record a video appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help, according to Simon Shuster, Time reporter in Moscow.

Military helicopter shot down in Sloviansk, a pilot killed

May 2, 10 a.m. -- Anti-terrorist operation was resumed in Sloviansk at 4:30 a.m. on May 2, according to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

One Ukrainian military helicopter was taken down by the Russian-backed protesters, another crash landed in Slovyansk. One pilot was killed, another taken captive by rebels, State Security Service of Ukraine said. One Interior Troops officer was wounded.

A wounded Ukrainian pilot taken captive by insurgents in Slovyansk. Photo by Russian journalist Oleksandr Kots, instagram.com/sashakots

A video by Russian LifeNews TV network shows the captured helicopter pilot brought to insurgents in Sloviansk. As he gets first medical aid, one of the insurgents is heard to offer to kill him, but is not supported by others.

Insurgents have also opened fire at the helicopter with medics, who came to take care of the wounded. One doctor was wounded.

Avakov reported that nine roadblocks established by the pro-Russia protesters were taken over by Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian police, National Guard and army participate in the operation.

As of now, the city is completely blocked by Ukrainian forces.

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