Explosion at the peaceful rally in Kharkiv

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Many Ukrainian cities mourns today Euromaidan activists and Ukrainian soldiers who lost their lives over the last year. The city of Kharkiv was not exception this Sunday. But peaceful rally turned to the bloody tragedy there.

Today, at 12:00 peaceful rally has started in Kharkiv to commemorate Euromaidan activists and Ukrainian soldiers who lost their lives defending our country and fighting for democracy, freedom and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Citizens gathered at the square near Palace of Sport in Kharkiv. 

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The first hour of the rally was quite, people commemorated fallen heroes and spoke about unity of Ukraine. Around 13:00 one column started march from the square toward the center of the city. 20 minutes later when people walked down the street chanting ‘Glory to Ukraine‘ and ‘Heroes do not die’ a huge explosion has happend.

There were two main versions of this horrible accident. The first – that an explosive was buried in the snow along the route of the activists, the other – that somebody threw an explosive from a vehicle that was driving alongside them.

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In accordance with the official data from Ukraine Interior Ministry 3 person killed and up to 10 wounded. EMPR source in Kharkiv reports on one more victim who potentially died in the ambulance car on the way from the explosion site to the hospital. Ukraine Interior Ministry also confirmed that one person among killed at the peaceful rally was a policeman.

In addition, witnesses say that well known Russian propaganda Lifenews Channel journos were the first among Media who came to the site and the first who started a live stream. Journalists from TV Channel 24 were the first among Ukrainian Official Media who came at the site.

EMPR source close to Kharkiv Police HQ reports that in fact situation was strange. Official peaceful rally was scheduled for today and all details, including the root has been confirmed with the Kharkiv City Council earlier. But while majory of participants gather at the square near the Palace of Sport, one group of activists suddenly stated that they will go on their own root, which was not confirmed before with the city authorities. They started their move with escort of several policemen and tragic explosion happened on the way of those small group of activists. 

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In the meantime, the main group of citizens of the peaceful rally did not even know that explosion has happened. That’s why despite of bloody tragedy many people continued participation in the rally and many Media reported just beautiful pictures of how citizens attend the peaceful rally, while on the nearby streets dead people were laying at the road and ambulance cars transported a dozen of wounded from the site.

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Vasil PonomariovEMPR contributor from Kharkiv was in 20 meters from the explosion site and became a witness of at least two death there. He confirms that the rally was passing smoothly and in an organized manner, but at some point a column was formed of young boys and girls who were handed a blue and yellow flag and for some reason began moving from the area where the action was taking place. He set off after the column. While the column was moving along the street between the building of Palace of Sport and the Zhukov metro station – to the left of the road there was a loud explosion. It was not a bag was thrown from a car, but an explosive specifically prepared to explode at the moment when a group of people were walking by.

Vasil confirms that there was a strong explosive blast and a great number of fragments flew around and immediately wounded people around there began to fall to the ground. Three meters to the right of him fell the well-known Kharkiv activist Ihor Tolmachev. Shrapnel from the explosion killed him on the spot. 

Later on, Interior Minister adviser Anton Gerashchenko has confirmed that blast in Kharkiv was caused by a remote-controlled explosive device covered by a heap of snow. Blasted as column approached. Anton Gerashchenko reports on the following numers of Kharkiv explosion victims: 3 killed (including Kharkiv activist Ihor Tolmachev and Police Lieutenant Colonel Rybalchenko who arrived to the city of Kharkiv from Pervomaysk Police HQ) and 11 wounded (including 5 policemen).

Due to all mentioned, no doubt that today’s tragey is a well-planned terrorist act against peaceful citizens aiming to impose chaos, fear and distabilization to the life of the Ukrainian north-east city of Kharkiv. Who did it? No matter there were ‘peaceful locals’ who hates Ukrainian yellow-blue flags, separatists from eastern Ukraine or even green men from Crimea. The fact is that Russia’s appetite has expanded beyond the current front line in the conflict zone (Donetsk and Luhank oblasts). It is predictable, but quite a dangerous signal.

February 23, 2013 updates: Danilo Didyk, 15 y.o. boy from the Right Sector injured during the rally was transported to the hospital in critical condition. Shrapnel from the explosion smashed a hole through his skull. He fell into a coma. This morning he died. RIP!

February 24, 2013 updates: Mykola Melnychuk, 18 y.o. student injured at the rally died in hospital this morning. RIP!

Zara Hanova, EMPR

EMPR: Olena Okras, Olena Wawryshyn, Andreas Summer and Vasil Ponomariov contributed to this publication.

Video credits to Vasil Ponomariov and Lena Podlugnaya; photo credits to Vasil Ponomariov, @itsector, @studmedia and @Andryulik.

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