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All over to Avakov and the MIA? – Law & (dis)Order, Odessa

March 24, 2015

In an interesting day for Odessa relating to law and order – and its enforcement – two developments of note have occurred.

The first development is the removal of the security structures in place in Odessa since 6th May 2014 by order of President Poroshenko.

From 6th May 2014 until yesterday, the local militsia/police were accompanied by “volunteers/paramilitary/” trained and equipped, under the pretense of insuring the local community and police rubbed along together fairly well in a post “2nd May 2014 Tragedy” environment.

The cold facts, however, were that whilst the “quasi-civilian/paramilitary minders” that accompanied the police albeit kept the police on the (fairly) straight and narrow, far more importantly, they were there to insure the loyalty of the police to Odessa and Ukraine.

The police seen by many in Odessa as having failed spectacularly on 2nd May 2014 at best, and at worst having sided with, or tacitly allowed, the pro-Russian elements to shoot dead numerous pro-Ukrainian protesters in the prelude to the Union House disaster, during which they were equally incompetent and/or colluding – depending upon your point of view.

With Mr Kolomoisky’s friend and business partner Igor Palitsa being Governor of Odessa, and having control over the “volunteers/paramilitary”, de facto Mr Kolomoisky has a (very) small patriotic army at his disposal in Odessa via Mr Palitsia.  Indeed, there are no prizes for guessing who equipped these people and therefore where some loyalty lay.

That, however, changed as of yesterday.  Undoubtedly not due to a change in the security threat to Odessa, but as a result of the on-going shenanigans surrounding Ukrnafta in Kyiv and “private security guards” on Mr Kolomoisky’s payroll “protecting” certain buildings were his current management team are under threat of replacement by the State.

(Indeed Igor Palitsa, the current Odessa Governor was Mr Kolomoisky’s chosen head of Ukrnafta until 2007, when he then entered politics as a Rada MP.)

As was predicted here many times over the past few months, the State and Mr Kolomoisky were heading toward a power game collision – a game that has now been joined.

Thus it has come to pass that as of yesterday the “volunteers/paramilitary” patrolling with the police no longer operate in the city – as confirmed by the Governor’s advisor Zoe Kazanzhi:

“I’ve talked to the Chairman of the Odessa Regional State Administration Igor Palitsa. I confirm and am authorized to report: all security structures, which from May 6 2014 in Odessa, maintained law and order, today are excluded from these processes, and have left the city.”

Thus, it’s over to Mr Arsen Avakov and Ministry of Internal Affairs alone then – despite the fact that no effective lustration has occurred within any Odessa MIA, with many remaining within the ranks that hold dubious allegiances.   It has to be said that many in Odessa look to events and security in Kharkiv, a city where Mr Avakov has a strong history and a good deal of personal power, and were more than pleased to have Mr Kolomoisky’s people acting as “volunteers/paramilitary” in joint patrols with the police of Odessa, insuring their allegiance to Odessa and Ukraine.

Rightly or wrongly the perception held by many has been that Mr Kolomoisky was, and is, far more reliable than Mr Avakov or the State in providing security for Odessa.

However, Mr Avakov and the MIA – perhaps fortunately – are still not left alone to provide the law and order for Odessa, even though he may well think that is the case.  Not having visited the city, like so many from Kyiv that really should, some may wonder if he (and others in Kyiv) really know what is going on here.

This brings us to the second development – which will be a realisation of what is happening in Odessa by those in Kyiv.  Mr Avakov and the MIA are not alone in policing Odessa – they also have the “Municipal Police/Guard”, created by the truly nefarious Mayor of Odessa, Gennady Trukhanov, that for some time has also been policing the city and enforcing the rule of law.

The problem being, that whilst the Mayor’s “Municipal Police/Guard” may be enforcing the rule of law, there is actually no legal basis for Mayor Trukhavov’s Municipal Police/Guard to do so – for there is no existing statute that either creates or recognises a “municipal police”.  The “Municipal Police/Guard” answering directly to the nefarious Mayor.

Ergo Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard” is in fact illegal and devoid of any statutory right to exist – and thus any statutory power to enforce the law (over and above the legal powers held by any citizen of Ukraine).

Indeed Mr Kolomoisky’s “volunteers/paramilitary” that patrolled with the Odessa police had, until yesterday, more legal foundation than Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard”.  Whilst the “volunteers/paramilitary” may have now all gone and/or disbanded, Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard” will continue to work tomorrow, next week, and into the future, enforcing the law in ways that they are not empowered to enforce it – because nobody from Kyiv ever comes to Odessa to notice such things.

Quite how the people of Odessa would rank who would look after their security most effectively would be interesting – though there would be few surprises to find Mr Avakov at the bottom of the list of three – behind an over-sized oligarch and mafia Mayor.

If the bombings within Odessa increase dramatically, (be they false flag, more settling of business scores under the veil of “terrorism”, or indeed genuine “pro-Russian” sponsored/driven events), Mr Avakov, and by extension President Poroshenko, will continue to lose political capital in Odessa.

Nevertheless, at some point (and with Mr Kolomoisky flexing his “paid for/hired” muscles in Kyiv currently, that point seems to have arrived), the issue of law enforcement had to be exclusively returned to the MIA.

Whether, perhaps, it may have been better received in Odessa after any roll-out of a new police service similar to that currently under way in Kyiv – complete with transparent recruiting etc. – is now somewhat irrelevant.

The legitimising or removal of the Mayor Trukhanov’s “Municipal Police/Guard” will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later, lest a queue of “wrongful arrests” hits the judicial system too.

However, it remains a sad state of affairs when the only 100% legitimate law enforcement/security entity ( the MIA and its leader) will be seen by a great many in the city as the worst, and least effective, of the 3 options that were providing law enforcement in the city up until yesterday –  especially so when the perceived security environment has not improved to the point that abandoning the “joint patrols” will fill many in Odessa with confidence.

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4 comments

  1. I have been overexposed to the Russian RTR/ORT 1 version of the Odessa story. The prior clash between the Russian fascists and the football supporters was not discussed. Do you have a link to a Ukrainian (or neutralish) version of events?


  2. Dear Nick,
    Azarov = Avakov? Just misspelled or Freudian slip? 😉
    Many thanks for your always interessting blog!

    Best wishes.


    • Good spot – amended. Typically the name correct throughout the text and not in the title 😀



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