As Ukraine celebrated Labor Day on Monday morning, residents of Odessa began flocking to the square to pay their respects to the victims of a terrible massacre that was perpetrated there exactly two years ago.
However, local police forces had cordoned off the square in order to restrict access to the area and effectively disrupt the somber tribute.
RIA Novosti reports that city authorities were allegedly tipped off about a bomb having been planted somewhere in the square which prompted them to seal off the area and send in bomb disposal squads.
The authorities have also deployed a wide assortment of forces, including the notorious Azov battalion and Alpha anti-terrorist special forces unit, to maintain order in the streets.
At the moment the square can only be accessed via a single checkpoint equipped with metal detectors, which nevertheless remains closed as the police officers manning it pointedly ignore the pleas of scores of mourners hoping to get through.
On May 2, 2014, right-wing pro-Kiev extremists chased anti-government protesters into Odessa’s House of Trade Unions and set the building on fire by hurling Molotov cocktails inside. According to official data, the tragic incident saw 48 people killed, including seven women and a minor; another 200 were injured, including 49 policemen and 14 servicemen. Many claim the death toll was several times higher. The events marked the bloodiest civil conflict in Odessa since 1918.