Avoiding facts? MSM uncertain who is behind deadly Odessa blaze
On Friday, Ukraine’s eastern town of Odessa saw brutal street battles between pro-autonomy activists and nationalist radicals which left 46 people dead. The majority of the victims died in the Trade Unions House that was set on fire by pro-Kiev radicals.
Very carefully worded commentary on the tragedy in Odessa came from the mainstream Western media, as if they were trying to avoid assigning the blame to those who actually set the building on fire. Their coverage of the event was heavily reliant on statements from Kiev that blamed the violence on pro-autonomy activists, as well as witness accounts given by the nationalist Right Sector members.
Based on their reports, it may seem that the House of Trade Unions just caught fire.
“At some stage yesterday – and it still unclear exactly how this started – but there were rival pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protests here. It led to fierce street clashes, which culminated in a huge fire in a building last night,” reported Sky News.
“Violence is escalating in Ukraine. Police in normally calm Odessa say a clash between pro-Russians and government supporters led to a fire that killed at least 31 people,” said a report by Fox News.
But the actual video footage from the scene of the incident clearly shows how pro-Kiev radicals are throwing Molotov cocktails into the Trade Unions House where pro-autonomy activists were trapped.
Asked by the Washington Post who had thrown Molotov cocktails, a pro-Ukrainian activist Diana Berg admitted “Our people — but now they are helping them to escape the building.”
The BBC website merely quoted the regional office of Ukraine's Interior Ministry, writing that “it did not give details of how the blaze started,” stressing that “the exact sequence of events is still unclear.”
Reuters news agency reported that “a pro-Kiev march was ambushed, petrol bombs, stones, explosive devices were thrown, police soon lost control and the building was later set on fire.”
CNN covered the incident by stating that it was “unclear exactly what may have caused it [the fire].” Later, however, the channel acknowledged the fire was started byKiev supporters throwing Molotov cocktails at the building.
The New York Times goes with the headline: ‘Ukraine Presses Pro-Russia Militants After Fighting Spreads to a Port City.’ The words “pro-Russian militants” could create the impression that those were not just ordinary people and anti-Kiev demonstrators trapped inside a burning building, but militants. And that kind of wording can almost justify the act of killing, notes RT’s Gayane Chichakyan.
The Guardian quotes a member of extreme-right nationalist group Right Sector as saying "The aim is to completely clear Odessa [of pro-Russians]… They are all paid Russian separatists.”
Such statements - be they from Right Sector, or the coup-imposed government - perpetuates a narrative that whoever opposes the Kiev authority and feels strong ties with Russia is simply a puppet of Moscow. And this narrative is just perfectly in line with how the US and European officials see the situation. They have firmly sided themselves with the authorities in Kiev and are ready to justify and defend whatever action Kiev takes against the protesters, says Chichakyan.