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Odessa politics – Resistance is not necessarily futile

November 24, 2014

A few days ago, within this entry, the following paragraph appeared:

“Locally, the fact the current Odessa Governor Igor Palitsia, and Chairman of the Regional Council Alexiy Goncharenko (both Block Poroshenko) become MPs when the new RADA sits, leaving an organised criminal for a Mayor, and a possible replacement for Goncharenko, his current council Deputy Chairman, a bought and paid for Andriy Klyuyev drone, are a concern – the new Chair of the Regional Council, an issue to be resolved this afternoon. Whomever the new Governor will be, will need to spend a significant amount of political energy trying to keep any reform agenda and implementation alive against the willing obstructionism that the Mayor, and possibly the new Regional Council Chairman, will surely robustly present. All rather grim when adding to that mix, many of the infamous returned single mandate seat MPs for Odessa, such as Sergei Kivalov, Anton Cisse etc. A toxic concoction.”

Perhaps an outcome, such as it is, should be given, prior to addressing the question in the title of this entry.

The current situation is as follows:  The Chairman of the Odessa Regional Council, Alexie Goncharenko resigned from that position on Friday – necessarily so having been elected to the RADA on the Poroshenko party list.  He officially cannot sit in two chairs, though historically many have tried to do so.  Thus the Regional Council is required to elected a new Chair following Mr Goncharenko’s resignation.  The same applies to Igor Palitsia the current Governor of Odessa – theoretically, he too must resign as Governor, though it falls to the president appoint a successor under current legislation – no elected replacement for Governor.

The runners and riders to replace Alexie Goncharenko as Chair are Mikhail Shmushkovitch, currently First Vice Chairman of Block Poroshenko Party in the Odessa region.

Secondly, Petr Hlytsov, a bought and paid for drone of the  Andrei Klyuyev.  Mr Klyuyev is currently wanted by the Ukrainian authorities in connection with his actions whilst highly placed in the Yanukovych regime.  Mr Hlystov supported by many ex-Regionaires and the pro-Russia Rodina Party lead by Igor Markov, currently in Moscow making televised appearances in support of the separatist cause in The Donbas.  Indeed, one Party Rodina deputy from Odessa Regional Council, Vadim Savenko, is actually fighting for the separatist cause in The Donbas against Ukrainian troops.

Also amongst that number, unsurprisingly, are those currently undergoing the “lustration process”.  The promises made for their support, should they be lustrated, that they would be appointed as advisors/councilors, and thus continue to “lead” (and bleed) the Oblast – albeit from a slightly different position.

In short, Mr Hlytsov went to great efforts to rally around him the anti-reformist ranks – whatever their reasoning and/or loyalty.

The voting required one candidate to gain 67 votes to be appointed as Chairman – which failed to occur.

The results were, Mr  Shmushkovitch – 62.  Mr Hlytsov – 44.  Abstentions – 6.

Thus, temporarily, Mr Shmushkovitch assumes the position of “Acting Chairman” until mid December when another vote is held.  Looking at the numbers, Mr Klyuyev, via his representatives, will have to dig deep and bribe a lot of Regional Council members to turn it  around.  Mr Shmushkovitch, need convince those who previously abstained and/or a few that previously voted for Mr Hlytsov of the hopelessness of their position – something perhaps easier to achieve from the position of “Acting Chairman”.

Thus the political forces of reformation verses regression continue to do battle for ascendancy – albeit  now at the local level and without any media attention.  Yet if the horribly captioned concept of “decentralisation” is to occur –   “devolution of power” would have been a far better expression – then the political fight for Odessa administration (and the administrations of every other city and Oblast) matters, and matters considerably.

The degree of resistance from the regions against any reform agenda is going to matter with regard to effective implementation – hopefully not something lost on those in Kyiv.

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