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A move to visible counter-terrorist policing – Odessa

December 31, 2014

Over the past week several entries relating to counter-terrorism have appear here.  One somewhat academic (but hopefully interesting), another somewhat more pragmatic.  Needless to say there are other older entries stretching back many, many months to when it became clear that it was inevitable matters would slide into ad hoc terrorist activity across Ukraine, far beyond the conflict zone in the east.

Anyway, after 5 bombings within the last month in Odessa, Ivan Katerinchuk, Odessa Chief of Police, has decided to take what has appeared to be reasonably successful counter-terrorism activity – judging by the number of arrests and weapons/munitions seizures since the summer months on an almost weekly basis – into a far more overt phase.

As such, there will be far more police and military vehicles, various specialist gadgetry, and uniformed personnel from both, wandering around Odessa with AKs slung over their shoulders than is normally the case.

The public are informed that there is going to be an increase in stop and search and their understanding for this is sought.

Indeed the assistance of the local population is requested – particularly from landlords, hoteliers, and rental agencies regarding suspicious characters.  Business owners, restaurateurs and shopping mall staff are asked to report suspicious objects at their place of work or in crowded places.

There are 2 hot line telephone numbers to Odessa police specifically for the purposes of counter-terrorism 24/7:  7794061 and 7794509 (Operations HQ).

Political parties, unions, and civil society actors are asked, politely, to refrain from organising, protests, pickets and rallies for the time being, as they drain police resources.  An issue that for the next 10 – 12 days is hardly likely to raise its head significantly due to New Year and the Christmas holidays anyway.  Certainly an issue, however, going beyond then – fundamental democratic freedoms and all that.  In no way should the most fundamental of freedoms be endlessly sacrificed at the alter of security, for in doing so, each and every time, a minor success is gained from those who would use terrorism as a tactic.

The next major test of security and public attitude is of course tomorrow, New Year’s Eve, and the usual free events put on by City Hall in the city centre, packed nightclubs, bars and restaurants etc., etc.  Let’s hope we can enter New Year without any such incident – but not be surprised if we do.

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