9 May 2014

Bodies and fire on the streets of Mariupol

It isn’t the smokestacks from the immense factories around the outskirts of Mariupol.

True, they belch sulphurous plumes across the immensity of the steppe. But no, that’s not why smoke grits your eyes and snags your throat in the city centre today.

It’s because the police station is still on fire.

Two bodies lie in the street  They pull back the blanket to reveal one of the dead men has a broken arm (see picture, below).

“See!” Men scream at us. “No guns. He was injured. He was not fighting.”

A few blocks away the barricade of tyres around a government building is on fire. More smoke.

In the road men and women are building a new barricade. They fear the Ukrainian soldiers will come again in their armoured personnel carriers and attack here, as they assaulted the police station earlier with fatal consequences.

A Land Cruiser screams up, pockmarked with bullet holes, one tyre punctured. Men throw more pallets on the barricade.

Sergei, once resident in Aberdeen, approaches: “Please, my friends, please tell the truth. We are not terrorists. We have no weapons.”

A plea against Kiev’s insistence that it is acting against pro-Moscow “terrorists”.

Even as he speaks to me, another man has accosted our producer to tell her that we are talking to “terrorists” who have taken over the city.

Claim and counterclaim. But whatever and whoever, it seems clear that Ukrainian forces unleashed their guns upon Mariupol today and appear to have achieved precious little beyond alienating further the sizeable element of the population which wants rid of them altogether.

For more from Mariupol, follow @alextomo on Twitter.

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10 reader comments

  1. No-one in particular says:

    20 civilians now reported dead and 1 Ukrainian soldier (source: Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov [of all sources!]). I’m sure the death toll will increase sadly. Seems fairly clear from the numerous videos and images now appearing on the internet what’s going on – unarmed civilians being shot by Ukrainian soldiers. An example is at


    (Warning: graphic content).

    As touched upon in another post, it will be interesting to see how western media and governments re-act to this ongoing situation.

    Just as an aside but – this makes interesting reading from the independent Kyiv Post newspaper.


    Seems that some Ukrainian press is more open about what’s been happening in Ukraine than the western press.

  2. Ana Kelly says:

    Thank you for giving another point of view. Western people find it acceptable to shoot “terrorists” and “separatists” – how will they react knowing that the killed are just ordinary citizens of Ukraine who just have a different point of view.

    Please, tell the truth

  3. Frank says:

    Putin has pumped weapons into Syria, and stalled all opposing diplomacy, which has led to cementation in place of Assad, the deaths of maybe 200,000 people, maiming of maybe 500,000 people, displacement as refugees of maybe 2,000,000 people. By what possible position can Putin become any part of any solution. A resurgent Russia is a bad day for all aspirations of peace in our world, Putin has grabbed Crimea, destabilised (and probably will grab) East Ukraine, and if you can see the propaganda for home consumption surrounding these actions, then it becomes clear he has aspirations for further grabs on nations now part of EU and NATO. This is not a man to trust or believe, we will be fools to do either.

  4. Michelle says:

    I just wish the mainstream journos would tell the truth. Kiev gov is now a military coup gov supported by Washington and the EU who are using the right sector to kill mostly unarmed civvies. If this party is allowed to grow and they join the EU these journos and their families will also be affected. Its not Putin who is the threat its the West and NATO.

    There are SO MANY videos showing this and proving what is happening. Mainstream media have a duty to the people, themselves and their families to report the truth and not hide or twist it.

    If reporters fail to report then if the SHTF its them and their children who will suffer. Are reporters families protected if bombs start falling due to greedy, selfish Western leaders?

  5. Philip Watson says:

    I don’t often do comments but I feel compelled to in this situation. You know you are about to be treated to a straight-to-the-point, unbiased, report when you hear the words ‘We have a report from Alex Thomson’. Whatever he reports on he remains impartial, fair and balanced (you know the traits that media are founded on but seldom employed these days).

    Whilst almost every single western media outlet is reporting with an editorial bias that equates to – Western installed, far-right junta in Kiev = Good; people who are against their democratically elected government being forcibly overthrown but who are pro-Russian = Bad, along comes Alex Thomson with a balanced report that arguably makes him stand out from everyone else.

    Never let it be said that this man is forced to toe a pro-western editorial line or that he is afraid to report the facts as they are. He treats his readers like adults and affords them the respect that they can see through the bullshit and don’t need to be told what to think. He supplies them with both sides of a story and allows them to make up their own minds. Unlike most of his colleagues in the corporate media.

    He is easily up there with the likes of Seymour Hersh and John Pilger in investigative journalism and that’s not bad company to be in. Keep it up Alex!

  6. Oleg says:

    I live in eastern part of Ukraine, and I am very grateful, that there is still someone left out there, who speaks the truth about our crysis.
    Today our “brave army” was causing chaos all over the city and shooting wherever they wanted.
    I can’t imagine, how pro-ukrainian news could blame these people as “armed terrorists”, but they’ve already did. And tommorow everyone would talk about “pro-russian terrorists, who terrorized Mariupol, but was stopped by Ukrainian army”. And then what? In a week or less armored forces will enter in MY city, and will shoot my family, my friends?! Well, I don’t want this things to happen. No one wants.
    And Kyiv does nothing to stop the bloodshed! Instead of negotiations, they are just keep training new legions of national guard. For what? Their training course lasts 1 month. How it is even possible to train soldier in 1 month?
    Putting emotions aside, I’m really thankful, that there are still left the independent journalists, who tells the truth.

  7. Mike says:

    Western elites must take responsibility for this having imposed conditions upon the unelected junta in Kiev. The IMF billions in interest bearing loans are subject to not only harsh austerity measures, privatisations and cutbacks, Kiev must also put down, violently if necessary, any internal opposition. And this is exactly what we’re seeing from Odessa to Mariupol and beyond. Meanwhile most of the corporate media in the west are relentlessly reporting on Putin and his alleged control over Ukrainians unhappy with the unelected, western supported neo nazi storm troopers taking over their country.

  8. Karl says:

    To see chan4 to make this the major news item when on the BBC it came in as a very low level item . Keep the reporting up I always rated chan4 when I was at college back in 86. You have won another viewer back report it as it is

  9. charlie says:

    Alex – Thank you for being brave enough to report truthfully from the Ukraine. The first western journalist Ive heard telling it as it is. Especially as Channel 4 has been one of the most biased on this. It has been depressing in the extreme listening-viewing to coverage that has gone beyond probaganda into completlty fabricate stories.

  10. Trevor Reeve says:

    Thankyou C4 a truly independent, balanced and fair report(s) of what is happening in Ukraine and particularly Mariupol, a lot better thyan the BBC which we no longer trust to give unbiased reporting
    Well done and keep it up and coming

    Trevor Reeve Mariupol and Torreveija

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