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Kiev troops and anti-fascists do battle in Sloviansk

KIEV government troops fought pitched battles with anti-fascist activists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk today.

The Kiev forces had ringed Sloviansk the previous day and were attempting to move into the city centre, but met fierce resistance.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov claimed that pro-Russia forces numbering about 800 were deploying large-calibre weapons and mortars. 

His ministry reported four officers killed and 30 wounded in the fighting.

And a local anti-fascist militia spokesman said that up to 30 people had been killed and wounded in the clashes, including a 20-year-old woman killed by a stray bullet.

Kiev also made efforts to restore control over the city of Odessa.

The coup government sent a national guard unit to re-establish control over the Black Sea port city, prompting fears in the local Jewish community that they would be targeted by neonazis linked to the new regime.

Jewish leaders in the city told Israel’s Jerusalem Post at the weekend they had prepared to flee the city if necessary. Last month a monument to the 34,000 Odessa Jews killed during the nazi occupation was vandalised and painted over with swastikas and symbols of the Right Sector fascist group.

Kiev is escalating attacks on cities which do not recognise the new regime.

Odessa had been largely unaffected by Ukraine’s deepening conflict — until 46 people died on Friday, most incinerated in the trade union centre as they sought refuge from a pro-Kiev mob.

Anti-fascists gathered in Odessa yesterday morning at the funeral of regional member of parliament Vyacheslav Markin, who died in the fire and was known for speaking out against the interim government in Kiev. 

They shouted “Hero, hero” and vowed to avenge his death.

Riots over the weekend have also brought into question the loyalty of Odessa's police forces to Kiev. 

On Sunday, pro-Russian demonstrators stormed the Odessa police headquarters and freed 67 people who had been detained in the rioting as police stood back.

The Interior Ministry said that a national guard unit would 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.

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