people died Friday after riots broke out between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian groups and a government building was set on fire.
Pro-Russian activists gathered Monday at the funeral of a regional member of parliament, Vyacheslav Markin, who was known for speaking out against the government in Kiev. They shouted “Hero! Hero!” and vowed to avenge his death.
“Kiev doesn’t control the situation in the country, Kiev controls only one half of Ukraine,” said 32-year-old Dmitry Sheiko, who was wearing the St. George black-and-orange ribbon, a ubiquitous symbol of the pro-Russia protest movement. “Even in Odessa they can’t maintain order, which means that we will restore order ourselves.”
The weekend riots have also brought into question the loyalty of Odessa’s police forces. On Sunday, pro-Russian demonstrators stormed the Odessa police headquarters and freed 67 people who were detained in the rioting.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement Monday that it was sending an elite national guard unit from Kiev to re-establish control in the city, and said 42 of those arrested during the rioting were being sent to another region for investigation, presumably to prevent local police from releasing more prisoners.
Russia, which the international community has accused of promoting the unrest, has vociferously condemned Ukraine’s recent security operations in the east.