On May 2, 2014, just a few months after the U.S.-backed right-wing coup that overthrew the elected president of Ukraine, a large mob led by openly fascist organizations murdered at least 42 people in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. This is what has come to be known as the Odessa Massacre.
After the coup, the victims had been petitioning for the right to elect their local governors, instead of having them appointed by the federal government, which was now hostile to the Russian ethnic minority in the country. The mob drove the petitioners into the five-story House of Trade Unions on Kulikovo square and set it on fire. Some of the victims died from the flames, some from the smoke, others from jumping from the windows and then being beaten- to death when they hit the ground.
To date, not one of the perpetrators has ever been punished for their crimes, and the Ukrainian government has never allowed an international investigation into the massacre.
The Odessa Solidarity Campaign was founded after three U.S. peace activists – Phil Wilayto, Bruce Gagnon and Regis Tremblay – returned from attending the second annual memorial held at the site of the massacre. The three were responding to an appeal by the Council of Mothers of May 2, an organization of relatives of the victims, to come to Odessa as International Observers because several fascist organizations were threatening to attack the memorial.
Ever since, the OSC has called for local events on May 2 to honor the victims of the massacre and support the demand by the victims’ families for an international investigation. This year’s actions were especially important because they drew attention to the existence of the fascist movement in Ukraine, which has only grown since the 2014 coup. Allusions to this fascist movement are routinely dismissed by the U.S. government and mass media as Russian propaganda, but we have seen this movement with our own eyes and have been following and reporting on it since 2016.
This year the OSC worked with two other organizations – the Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners in Exile and the Coop Antiwar Cafe of Berlin – to promote activities around May 2. The three organizations jointly issued a May 2 Appeal for International Solidarity with the People of Odessa that called on organizations around the world to hold local events to mark the Odessa Massacre.
They also released an educational webinar about the massacre and the war in Ukraine.
Following is a report on the 2022 solidarity actions.
NOTE: If your organization held an activity on May 2 and it’s not listed here, please send the information to: DefendersFJE@hotmail.com.
May 2, 2014, Odessa, Ukraine: A fascist-led mob sets fire to the House of Trade Unions in Kulikovo square, killing at least 42 progressives, just months after the right-wing coup.
Ever since the Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014, the antifascist people of Odessa have held memorials at the site of the killings, including major gatherings each year on the actual anniversary. This year, the head of the Regional Military Administration imposed a curfew from the evening before May 2 until the morning after. No one was allowed on the streets. Public transportation was shut down. Meanwhile, many people thought to be insufficiently loyal to the right-wing government were arrested and charged with subversive activity, part of a wave of repression that has been sweeping the country. The general repression began with the Russian intervention on Feb. 24, but has since spread widely, with many thousands now charged with subversive activity, often for merely expressing opinions critical of the government on blogs and social media
Members and friends of the Odessa Solidarity Campaign hold a vigil outside the federal courthouse in Richmond, Virginia.
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – USA
On May 2, the Odessa Solidarity Campaign held a vigil outside the federal courthouse in downtown Richmond. The OSC is sponsored by the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, which publishes the quarterly newspaper The Virginia Defender, which in its last two issues has carried major articles opposing the U.S. position in Ukraine. The 18-year-old newspaper has a statewide circulation of 15,000.
In addition to the webinar mentioned above, OSC coordinator Phil Wilayto presented on a webinar organized by the International Action Center and was interviewed several times by the Russian news outlet Sputnik International, with some of the interviews picked up by major news outlets in India, South Africa, Venezuela and Lebanon. (See WEBINARS and INTERVIEWS below.)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – USA
On May 2, the New York-based International Action Center broadcast an educational webinar on May 2 and the war in Ukraine. “Reckoning with the Ukraine Government’s Armed Nazi Militias.” The presenters were Leonid Ilderkin, member of the coordination council of the Union of Political Refugees and Political Prisoners of Ukraine; Phil Wilayto, OSC coordinator; Alexey, a survivor of the Odessa House of Trade Unions massacre currently living in Luhansk; and Sara Flounders and Teddie Kelly of the International Action Center.
Socialist Unity Party members and friends hold a May 2 memorial in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – USA
Baltimore solidarity activists held a memorial next to the Harriet Tubman Solidarity Center, reading the names of those who died in the Odessa Massacre, mounting a memorial on a fence and performing a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “All You Fascists Bound to Lose.” The commemoration was initiated by the Baltimore Socialist Unity Party.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – USA
The Socialist Unity Party’s John Parker, a candidate for U.S. Senate from Los Angeles, Calif., traveled on a fact-finding mission to the People’s Republic of Luhansk in the Donbass and later participated in a ceremony May 2 at the Odessa Memorial in Moscow. The SUP also produced a webinar, “Voices from Donbass – Stop the War Lies.”
Members of The Fire This TIme Movement for Social Justice show solidarity from Vancouver, Canada.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
The Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice carried out a social media campaign to educate the public about May 2.
Hundreds of people march to the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow to commemorate the Odessa Massacre victims.
The Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine helped organize a procession to the Ukrainian Embassy. Local people carried posters, photographs and flowers to honor the memory of those killed at the House of Trade Unions in 2014. Video HERE.
For the eighth year in a row, leftists in Penza, Russia, hold a May 2 solidarity event.
A memorial was held in the provincial capital of Prenza. Activists with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Left Front and the Leninist Communist Youth Union laid flowers at the monument to the Fighters of the Revolution on Sovetskaya Square in memory of all those who died in the Odessa House of Trade Unions in 2014. This is the eighth consecutive year in which similar memorials have been held in Penza by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Left Front. See a detailed report HERE.
In an action called by the Coop Antiwar Cafe, activists gather near the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to remember the Odessa Massacre.
Despite harassment from provocateurs and the police, the Coop Antiwar Cafe sponsored two May 2 events in Berlin. The first, near the Ukrainian embassy, was shut down by police because some of the images of Ukrainian neo-Nazis that were displayed included their fascist symbols, which are banned in Germany. The second event was held at Pariser Platz by the Brandenburg Gate in front of the U.S. Embassy, where there were some provocateurs. Despite the opposition, the organizers read the appeal for international actions on May 2 that was issued by the Antiwar Cafe, Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine and the OSC. There also were remarks by the chair of the German Communist Party.
Protest in front of the Brandenburg Gate:
Also from the Coop Antiwar Cafe:
A translation of the speech from Liane Kilinc, chair of the association “Friedensbrücke-Kriegsopferhilfe eV“
One national and three regional Italian television stations broadcast a documentary on the Odessa massacre. This was part of “Forbidden Peace,” a special event also broadcast on these stations, in which actors, journalists, writers, philosophers, poets and citizens united to say what is really happening in Ukraine, pointing out the responsibilities of the United States, Europe and NATO.
No details yet, but we have been told an action took place.
A leftist organization posted an online report on the Odessa Massacre.
A group of Turkish communist emigrants held an activity.
The Galician Committee of Support to Donbass carried out a social media campaign to remind the public about the Odessa Massacre and other attacks that have taken place since. “Go ahead with denazification! Long live Donbass and anti-fascist Ukraine!”
On May 2, for a World Free from War & Fascism: A Webinar on the Day of International Solidarity with the People of Odessa! – by the Odessa Solidarity Campaign; Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine; and Coop Antiwar Cafe of Berlin. Presenters: Leonid Dezhnev, Union of Political Emigrants; Heinrich Buecker, Coop Antiwar Cafe; and Phil Wilayto, OSC.
Reckoning with Ukraine’s Armed Nazi Militias – by the International Action Center. Presenters: Leonid Ilderkin, member of the coordination council of the Union of Political Refugees and Political Prisoners of Ukraine; Phil Wilayto, coordinator of the Odessa Solidarity Campaign; Alexey, a survivor of the Odessa House of Trade Unions massacre currently living in Luhansk; and Sara Flounders and Teddie Kelly of the International Action Center.
March 27, 2022 – Socialist Unity Party
Russia, Ukraine & the U.S. – The background they’re not telling you – from Winter 2022 edition of The Virginia Defender (written before the invasion)
Statement on the Present Crisis in Ukraine – Issued jointly by The Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality; Odessa Solidarity Campaign; and The Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice (written four days after the invasion)
Political Repression in Ukraine – by Phil Wilayto for The Virginia Defender – March 28, 2022. The U.S. media is full of stories about what it calls political repression in other countries, but is strangely silent when it comes to Ukraine.
Finland, Sweden Applications for NATO Membership Add to Regional Instability – US Activist – Virginia Defender editor Phil Wilayto on what it means for Sweden and Finland to join NATO. This interview was with the Russian news outlet Sputnik International, which is now banned from broadcasting in Europe. However, the interview was carried by several other large media outlets, including United News of India, that country’s second-largest news agency, and Independent Online (IOL), a major news and information website based in South Africa.
Remembering the 2014 Attack on Odessa – Odessa Solidarity Campaign coordinator Phil Wilayto on the online program “By Any Means Necessary” with Jacquie Luqman and Sean Blackmon (April 23, 2022).
A Sputnik interview with Wilayto that was picked up by UrduPoint, an Urdu-language web portal that is the sixth most visited webiste in Pakistan.
Global Conversations, Regis Tremblay and Friends: “Ukrainian Nazis, A U.S. War Against Russia, A Lifetime of Antiwar Activism: Phil WIlayto” OSC coordinator Phil Wilayto is interviewed by Regis Tremblay, one of the three U.S. peace activists who traveled to Odessa for the May 2 2016 memorial. Regis now lives in Yalta in Crimea. His online program has 10,000 subscribers.