Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven. File picture: Masi Losi

Johannesburg -

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday condemned the attack on the House of Trade Unions building in Odessa, Ukraine, that killed around 40 people.

“Cosatu condemns the desecration of a trade union building by fascist vigilantes and the brutal murder of anti-fascist protesters, and declares its solidarity with the progressive democratic movement which has emerged in south-eastern Ukraine,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.

Forty people died of smoke inhalation or when jumping from windows after the building was set alight last Friday - allegedly by members of the “Right Sector” Ukrainian nationalist organisation.

“Bodies lay in pools of blood outside the main entrance as explosions from improvised grenades and Molotov cocktails filled the air,” the UK Guardian reported online.

According to the report, pro-Russia fighters inside the building retaliated by throwing masonry and petrol bombs and shooting from the roof on to the crowd below.

Five other people were killed by the gunshots, and were covered by Ukraine flags as fire engines and ambulances arrived at the scene.

Craven said the report was misleading as “pro-Russian” protesters in the building were not primarily united along ethnic or linguistic lines, but represented an extensive working-class resistance to the “extreme right” administration, which came into power in Ukraine in February. - Sapa