Saturday, May 10, 2014

Still Trying to Do Amateur Forensics on the Odessa Massacre

This is the most complete video I've so far seen of the interior of the Trade Union House in Odessa where so many were killed on May 2.

Video streaming by Ustream

I confess, I haven't seen it all yet, as I've been juggling a whole bunch of other stuff, including an injured cat. But what I have seen confirms some of my previous suspicions.

Most of the building was not burned at all. The deadly fire was in the entrance lobby and the rear stairwell with which the lobby connects. From the indications in this and other videos of the interior after the flames were put out, and from testimony of survivors I've read, once the Anti-Maidan activists gained entrance to the building on May 2 -- whether they broke in or were let in to the entrance lobby remains to be determined -- they erected a makeshift barricade from materials at hand. The remains of that barricade are still visible in the video above. Those remains are mostly metal, and exactly what was in the barricade is hard to determine from the ashes, scraps and twisted bars that could be seen when the video was shot on May 4. It appears from the burnt debris of the barricade that it was fairly substantial.

Based on what's in other videos I've seen, it appears that the fire started in the lobby, probably in the barricade itself, after several Molotov cocktails were hurled through the entrance doors. One of the doors appeared to be open as the flames consumed whatever was inside, and they all seemed to have glass panels, which could have been broken by the mob outside. Consequently, the doors didn't provide any substantial protection.

There are now a number of videos posted which show the nearly free access Right Sektor thugs had to the building both before and after the fire started. They were able to break in at the side entrances, and dozens of them were roaming the place seeking out and murdering victims all through the time that
Anti-Maidan activists were attempting to shelter inside. This is of interest in part because they were inside the building as the fire in the entrance lobby suddenly and spectacularly raced up the stairwell, killing what appeared to be more than a dozen people almost instantly.

Visible in the early videos of the charred bodies on the steps are makeshift barricades that those on the steps appeared to have erected to prevent people from coming down the steps. This suggests to me that there were Right Sektor thugs roaming the upper floors before the fire started, and there are videos of people in the windows of the upper floors waving the Ukrainian flag -- to loud and raucous cheers below -- as the fire was burning and people were trying to get out of the windows of offices at the front of the building.

This link is to quite a long video that shows efforts of people to escape the building by climbing out front windows. It also shows efforts at rescue made by members of the crowd prior to the arrival of the fire brigade hoses and ladders. At one point, a man in a red jacket or sweatshirt is seen hurling a Molotov cocktail at the building, apparently aiming for some of those trying to escape. He is admonished by another man in the crowd, and he seems disappointed that his efforts were not appreciated. He appears later to hurl invective (one assumes) at those trying to escape the building. There is also a portion of the video where someone appears in a top floor window waving a Ukrainian flag to the lusty chants of "U-krai-na!" from the crowd below, as terrified people stand or crouch in the windows.

Once the fire brigade arrives, they are able to put the fire in the lobby out within a very short time.

Numerous videos show Right Sektor access to the building.

Here are a few links:
(above link is to a 1:17:22 video compilation which includes many scenes inside the building from the POV of rampaging Right Sektor thugs. Also shows a lot of dead bodies of people who didn't die in the fire.)
(This one appears to show the first stage of the fire in the lobby, but not the outbreak itself. There is also a shot of someone holding a Ukrainian flag in a fourth floor window as the fire is burning in the lobby below.)
(In addition to much else, this one shows the fire brigade at the back of the building and fires burning on the second and fourth floors of the stairwell.)
(Thugs rampaging inside, a fire burning on the stairway. Fire appears to be from a Molotov cocktail tossed through the window. No one appears to notice....)
(WARNING: Graphic. This was live video taken as soon as news cameras could get in the building; many burned bodies, also bodies of people apparently shot inside or otherwise killed inside.)
(This is some of the video I saw live on the Vremya Odessa livestream the night of May 2; there are bodies in unburned offices that have been trashed, and one in a stairwell. These people were most likely murdered rather than overcome with smoke.)
(This is an infamous video taken from Right Sektor POV immediately after most of the survivors had gotten out. There are dead bodies, and efforts are made to prove the "terrorists" are Russian. They aren't successful. Pisses 'em off.)

People tried to barricade themselves in offices for protection and sometimes they were successful. But there appear to have been many murders inside as well.

Of course the Odessa "authorities" have no interest in investigating those murders, only the ones they say took place at the riots and among the mob outside -- murders they say were caused by "Anti-Maidan" elements.

This is, as I've said before, a purely Nazi tactic. Accuse the victims of what the perpetrators have done, and "prove" it through whatever means necessary.

It's shameful enough that the so-called "government" in Kiev and its local appointees in Odessa are pulling this shit; worse though is the support they're getting from all the capitals of the EU/NATO/US axis, every single one. They're all denying that Right Sektor and other fascist thugs are responsible for any of the atrocities of the past week. Couldn't be. As all the racist thugs are Russian under Putin's direct order and control. Everyone knows that.

Still, I ask, how did the fire that killed so many people get started, and what fueled it to such intensity and prolongation?*

It's a question that goes to the nature of the fire itself, who started it and how, and how was it sustained for such a long time in an portion of the building that provided so little fuel?

The Odessa Massacre itself has become an iconic event in the current Ukrainian crisis, one that no doubt will be remembered down the ages. Propaganda is so intense around it that truth is liable to be hidden for some time to come.

Yet in the barrage of propaganda we're exposed to, it's important, in my view, to at least try to understand what really happened.
UPDATE: I have since seen a Vremya Odessa interview with one of the investigators of the May 2 Massacre, and he said -- at least to the extent I was able to translate what he was saying -- that there was no explosion in the building, and that the fire shot up the back stairwell as if up a chimney, which is what I had suspected all along. The question remains, though, what caused a fire that had been burning in the lobby for a while to suddenly shoot up the stairwell, catching so many people in its smoke and flame.

Several things come to mind:

1)The fire was initially burning in the south end of the lobby. Early video shows no fire visible through the two northern entrances.

2)The door to the south entrance was open, however, which allowed flames and smoke to escape from the lobby to the front of the building.

3)The windows in the stairwell were broken out at some point which I haven't been able to determine. There were defenders on landings throwing stones and other objects out of the broken windows at the mob below. Members of the mob were hurling Molotov cocktails into the building through the broken stairwell windows.

4)For some time there was very little smoke coming out of the broken stairwell windows, and then suddenly there was a great deal of smoke and flames were seen shooting through the second floor windows. That's when men (and at least one woman?) jumped out of the stairwell windows, some apparently from the top floor, landing in the parking area at the foot of the stairwell, most badly injured. According to recent statistics, seven victims died in "falls" -- one assumes that means jumping out of windows. Eight were killed by gunshots. The rest of the now 48 dead died in the fire, either overcome by flame or by smoke or both. One man made it half way out of a window before he was overcome and his burnt body remained half-way out of the window until after the fire was extinguished and the bodies were collected.

5)The suddenness of flame and smoke racing up the stairwell -- when there had been very little smoke and no flame (except that caused by Molotov cocktails hurled from below) coming out of the stairwell previously, despite the fact that a fire was burning vigorously in the lobby -- suggests that either the direction of the wind changed, blowing smoke and flame from the front of the building toward the back, or some highly flammable material suddenly caught fire which massively increased the amount of smoke and flame in the lobby which could only escape through the stairwell. Of course, both could have happened simultaneously.

6) Members of the mob are seen in some videos throwing materials from the debris outside the front entrance toward the entrance doors. I haven't seen any video that shows that any of the debris they were hurling toward the front entrance actually made it inside,  but it could have. Among the debris being thrown toward the entrance were tires, pallets and other wooden debris, no doubt in order to feed the fire.

7)In one of the videos of the fire's aftermath in the lobby, there are two relatively large burnt metal containers on the steps. Did they contain a flammable liquid? There's no way to know from the video. But if they did contain something like gasoline, they might not have exploded, but they could well have burst into flame with sudden and significant force of both flame and smoke.

I will say that some of the mob outside the building seemed shocked, even horrified, when they realized what was happening, and many helped to rescue people from the burning building. Nevertheless, many of those who escaped the fire were badly beaten by the mob, and dozens were arrested and held by the police until they were released after loud and forceful protests.

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