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Odessa SBU continue rolling up terrorist groups – Timing?

April 10, 2015

Regular reader of this blog will probably vaguely remember ad hoc, but nonetheless numerous links to SBU arrests of terrorists over the past few months in Odessa.  Some in the city centre, others at Malinovsky Market etc – but a clear effort being made from December 2014 onward can be seen.

Most recently, as mentioned a few days ago, 3 Communist Party of Ukraine members were arrested in the city, subsequently admitting to 10 of the 28 explosive devices planted around the city over the past few months.

Amongst the timers, explosives, sawn-off firearms and paraphernalia recovered, an intelligence/secret service agency’s dream – a diary of one of the bombers describing events, providing “call sign/nicknames of connections, logistics and cash etc.

Terr Di 1Terr Di 2

The problems of employing amateurs at the coal face and all that.

No doubt the SBU are more interested in the diary than the amount of munitions recovered, or indeed the number bombings detected.  Those who believe they are identifiable from what is written in the diary, will now be somewhat more nervous/careful than they were before.

There is, of course, a distinction to be made between terrorists and separatists/anti-government sympathisers.  Whilst the push and pull factors attracting both to “the cause” may be (in part) the same, the difference is clearly that of personal limitations when it comes to just how far one is prepared to go for “the cause”.  Waving a flag, going on marches, and being generally sympathetic toward any separatist cause, is naturally not terrorism.  Actively being involved in acts of terrorism, or actively being involved in a preparatory/facilitatory act, is.

Thus the 20+ arrests of the organisers that followed the launch of the “People’s Council of Bessarabia” – itself preceded by 8 arrests for promoting the “People’s Council of Bessarabia” – as this entry outlines, relate to promoting separatism and necessarily not terrorism.  (And a public “thanks” to the Daily Vertical for this is required.)

Overnight, the SBU arrested another 30 people for terrorist matters, huddling together under the banner of the “Odessa People’s Republic”.  Explosives, machine guns, munitions, scopes etc seized in fairly large quantities.  These people operating under the broad banner of the “Odessa People’s Republic” are in truth are a mixture of the “Orthodox Cossacks” headed by Anatoly Kolomiitsev, and Afghan Veterans headed by Alexander Lutsenko.  The “Odessa People’s Republic” being an umbrella identity to all intents and purposes.

The initial phase of the “Odessa People’s Republic” plan, was/is apparently to blow the Zatoka and Lighthouse bridges and then forcibly/violently seize public buildings thereafter – akin to the early days of the Donetsk and Luhansk “Republics”.

These 30 or so arrests made, it is now possible to state that the SBU have been following this group for some considerable time, monitoring their regular meetings at the Odessa Theatre and Art School at 103 Levitan.  A room there rented since 2012 by the “Odessa Cossack Districy SBI, Orthodox Cossacks”.  Again – nothing quite like making it difficult for the Security Services/intelligence agencies.

Thus the question arises, that whilst the public would expect the swift arrest of active bombers midst an on-going campaign, per the case of the 3 Communists bombers – why now have the SBU decided to roll-up the “Odessa People’s Republic” coalition of Orthodox Cossacks and Afghan Veterans, having watched them for so long?

(To the professionals reading this, yes it is acknowledged that identified cells in an active bombing campaign are not necessarily rolled-up immediately by on-looking security/intelligence services once identified – despite what the public may like to think – particularly when, as with the case of the Communist bombers, property and infrastructure, not lives, were consistently the tragets.)

There are many possible reasons as to why the SBU chose to roll up the “Odessa People’s Republic” now.  The most obvious is the rapidly approaching first anniversary of the 2nd May tragedy in Odessa (which saw numerous Orthodox Cossacks arrested thereafter, for participation in the riots).  A bloody and deadly anniversary, of course, sits high upon the security services/intelligence agencies risk analysis.

It may have been because President Poroshenko visits Odessa today, and whilst there have been no attempts at assassinating any high profile political figures thus far, in the case of the “Odessa People’s Republic”, that was perhaps not likely to continue.  Rumour from within the SBU mill, is that amongst those of this organisation arrested, were two individuals that had been designated as assassins.  Indeed there is/was a “hit list” of 4 names of public figures for “liquidation”, with $150,000 as the fee for these political killings.

The four names upon the list, however, at the time of writing have not been stated officially or even in unofficial passing.  Undoubtedly, however, they will make their way one way or another into the public realm over the coming days.

Great care should be taken to avoid direct linkage between the Presidential visit and any such list however.  As has been stated, the SBU have been watching this group for a long time prior to acting, and the Presidential visit was announced at short notice.  Any such list may have been in existence for some time, and perhaps the names thereon known to the SBU for almost as long.  It is perhaps far more likely that the list contains local political leaders, rather than national leaders that almost never visit Odessa.

It may also be that the SBU decided to roll up this organisation now, prior to the Orthodox Easter weekend.  A romantic linkage to the 1916 Easter Uprisings in Ireland perhaps muted during one or another monitored meeting at the Odessa Theatre and Art School.

Perhaps it is simply a case that the SBU, believing it had no more/little more intelligence to gain by allowing the “Odessa People’s Republic” to continue to operate, and with the President arriving in the city today, rolling up this porganisation the day before, is guaranteed to equate to lots and lots of Brownie Points for the Odessa SBU (and Kyiv SBU that assisted in the actual arrests and subsequent searches).

Whatever the reason – there is a reason for rolling up the “Odessa People’s Republic” now, rather than to let it continue to run under SBU surveillance.

More broadly however, whether planned, or coincidence, this past week has seen a crescendo of SBU activity resulting in more than 60 arrests for terrorism and promoting separatism, rather than the almost fortnightly announcements of terrorism/separatism related arrests in small numbers, since the December 2014 SBU operations began.

Undoubtedly a busy and difficult summer ahead for the SBU, when “Russian tourists” to Odessa maybe either “Russian tourists” or in fact “Russian Tourists”.

 

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