Italy: 'Odessa martyrs' piazza irks Ukraine

The signpost for the piazza Image copyright Comune di Ceriano Laghetto
Image caption The square's new name has upset Ukraine's ambassador to Italy

The renaming of a piazza in a small Italian town has caused a diplomatic incident, it seems.

The square in Ceriano Laghetto, in the northern province of Lombardy, is now called "Martyrs of Odessa" in memory of people killed during two separate incidents in the Ukrainian city. The first was a massacre of Jews in October 1941, but it's also named for pro-Russian separatists who died during clashes with Ukrainian government supporters in May 2014, Mayor Dante Cattaneo, of the right-wing Northern League party, tells Il Fatto Quotdiano. More than 30 people were killed in a fire after apparently barricading themselves into a government-run building in the city.

The renaming of the piazza - which is used as a car park - has angered Ukraine's ambassador in Rome, Yevhen Perelygin. In a letter to the region's prefect, he asks for the decision to be revoked, saying the events of May 2014 are still unclear. He also suggested in an interview that the decision was "manipulated by political forces who support the Russian initiative" in Ukraine, something the mayor refutes. Mr Cattaneo appears to be defiant, despite a request from the regional authority to undo the change, and says Italy shouldn't be allowing foreign interference in decision making. "Piazza for the Martyrs of Odessa is there and will remain," he tweeted. "In Ceriano there's a democratically elected local authority. It is not Ukraine."

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