At 15.00, we (Euromaidan) gathered in Sobor square and prepared to march through Odessa in order to show that Odessa is Ukrainian.
At around 15.30, in the Greek street, a formation of fully equipped pro-Russian activists began approaching us from the direction the ‘Athena’. Police lined two cordons, one blocking us, the other blocking them. Soon people from both sides began breaking street paving and threw stones at each other over the militia cordon. Both fireworks and sonic firecrackers were used. Stone throwing continued for half an hour. Injured persons were moved away. Nobody really understood what was the power ratio.
Half an hour later a small group from Euromaidan decided to outflank the pro-Russians through a small street of Zhukovsky. I was there as well. When our people with stones outflanked them, and there was no police between the groups, pro-Russians opened a combat weapon fire. The last of our group started running, while I and a few other people fell to the ground and hid behind vehicles. Then pro-Russians launched a counterattack, threw stones and fireworks. A huge stone fell just a couple of inches away from my head, its splinter hitting my eyebrow. There was a lot of blood and it was really frightening. After that, I understood that I won’t escape by lying on the ground, and when our people began throwing stones in response, I managed to get to the crowd behind the corner. There, I’ve met the first one hurt in the gunfire. An artery in his leg was shot and pink blood sprayed in fountains. He was in shock and assured me that he was fine. I and some other guys carried him to some quickly erected medical point.
When I came back to Zhukovsky street, I saw the most horrifying sight in my life. A young man was lying dead, covered with a Ukrainian flag. Somebody took his phone, called his parents and said: ‘Your son was killed. Come to Deribasivska to pick him up.’ The first thing I saw when I came back to Zhukovsky street was an AK-47(!) in the shielded pro-Russian crowd and this gun was firing in series of shots in our direction. Also, there were a lot of injured victims. Some friends and I grabbed one of them and carried to safety. His flak jacket was pierced. We brought him to the volunteer medical point. Ambulances were overfilled and leaving.
At that moment, looking at the power ratio, I understood that there were a lot more of our Patriots than pro-Russians. Yet, they were well armed and organized. I thought that if they had enough guns, they will either murder us all or drive us away. Yet, this is where the strength of the Ukrainian nation lies.
Despite the pro-Russian shooting, more and more of our activists approached them. People with stones ran against assault rifles, while covering behind trash bins and cafe tables. In the following hours, we have blocked the whole perimeter and pressed them up in the Greek street, in an unfinished parking lot of ‘Athena’. We mostly used barricades, constructed from everything that was at hand. At that time, police was either doing nothing or did something incomprehensible. Yet, they surely did nothing to end the conflict.
A few hours later, our side started throwing Molotov cocktails. The only firetruck came closer and began extinguishing the fire on the burning facades of buildings. I don’t know why, but at some point the firefighters abandoned their truck with a broken windshield. Euromaidanians got into the vehicle and simply drove through the barricades towards the pro-Russian crowd. However, at some point the truck stopped and the maneuver wasn’t successful.
During that time I carried away yet another unconscious victim with injured head. Euromaidanians were entirely unprepared for a fight. Except for some twenty members of self-defense unit, we didn’t even have helmets, not to mention the flak jackets. As time passed, shots became rarer and finally stopped. It was clear the the pro-Russian gang is running out of ammo. Then the Ukrainian patriots stood up for attack – beginning from the Greek square, they pushed away pro-russian activists from the Greek street towards the Sobor square. At that time, militia gathered a cordon around us, which gave a chance for some pro-russian activists to break through. However, the crowd quickly defeated that cordon and started to chase the pro-russian crowd through the whole square.
Then, I started running towards the pro-russian activists and literally covered them with my own body because the people were beating them up with clubs and it was impossible to stop them. It was the only choice. That way I saved 3 people. More or less alive, they were dragged to the medical points and almost not beaten up anymore. One pro-russian, who managed to recover after beating, pulled out a huge knife and almost stabbed me. I managed to avoid him, and then he got stunned with a club. From that moment on, I stopped protecting him.
After the pro-russian gang got dispersed, I saw that the streets and the square were full of blood. Patriots regrouped and started moving towards the Kulikovo field in columns, where the tents of separatists were located. When we arrived there, the tents were already on fire and the activists had already locked themselves in the Trade Union House. From there, they started firing through the windows at the area we occupied outside. However, in the Kulikovo field, I saw pistols in our crowd as well. The Trade Union House was quickly set on fire with Molotov cocktails. The house started burning and the pro-russian activists moved to the 4th floor. It quickly became apparent that if we did nothing, the activists would simply die there. There was absolutely no police. Before that they just stood and did nothing and then they didn’t even bother going to Kulikovo.
Everyone quickly realised that the people inside the Trade Union House had to be saved. And after an hour since the fire started, not a single fire truck had arrived to the scene. The patriots broke down the scene and two wooden columns near the windows, so that the pro-russians could get out. A lot of people started climbing up in order to save them. Some of the people, who couldn’t suffer anymore, simply jumped out to the ground from the 4th floor. It was horrible – after reaching the ground, none of them could stand up. These pro-russians, who we saved, acted aggressively (!). Some of them, right after going down the columns, began fighting with the crowd. For that they got beaten up until they lost consciousness.
My sister Danochka and my mother were giving first aid to the wounded throughout the events. One man was thought to be dead, covered with the Ukrainian flag and was left lying alone. Danochka ran to him, checked his pulse and it turned out that he was still alive. Thanks to her, the man was taken to medics and received help.
Finally, the firetrucks and police started to gather. The firemen acted disgustingly. They weren’t rushing at all, dragged everything and simply took the safest positions. People simply took away rescue ladders from them and went rescuing the separatists themselves.The rescuing of the pro-russians became quicker and, actually, the people that the separatists were firing at an hour ago, turned out to be their rescuers. Basically, that was the end of the confrontation.
According to the police summary, more than 50 people died, but I think that the real situation will appear after a couple of days. Right now it seems that there are more than a thousand injured.
Despite this nightmare Odessa showed that it has ten times as many patriots as pro-russians. Just like in Maidan, the number of people and their unbelievable courage simply overwhelmed the enemy. I really hope that we have solved the question of pro-russian separatism for a foreseeable future.