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An Odessa – Lviv reformist umbilical chord?

June 28, 2015

A very short entry today, but one to ponder as it goes against all the current media noise relating to Andrie Sadovyi/Samopomich and Viltali Klitschko and UDAR is the issue of seemingly blossoming ties between Odessa and Lviv.

They are but currently small acorns form which it remains to be seen if mighty oaks will grow.

Your author last year put certain friends that are both functionaries and elected Oblast Rada members in contact with those within the Lviv City Administration over a specific issue.  It was very much a case of joining the like-minded together and something that could and should have occurred without your author’s assistance.  Except such regional interaction is actually few and far between.

Indeed if central government and institutional management nationally is far from “joined-up”, then regional Oblast interaction bilaterally is next to zero.

Lviv and Odessa however have many current political commonalities insomuch as both are willing guinea pigs for “pilot projects” in the provinces.  Both now have, prima facie, forceful reformist leaderships.

Whilst one of Andri Sadoviy’s right-hand men in Lviv, Sasha Kobzarev is an Odessa native and friend of your author for many years, Governor Saakashvili’s headline-grabbing advisor, Sasha Borovik, was born in Lviv.

Indeed, in Odessa recently numerous Lviv restaurants and chocolate stores have begun to appear where once there were none.

A few months ago, Lviv was the first city airport to bring in a policy approaching “open skies”, breaking the Kolomoisky UIA monopoly at the city airport.  Odessa is about to become the second city to break that monopoly and welcome in the same policy as Lviv.

One can only imagine the immense pressure that has been rightly brought to bear upon Mr Antoniuk, a former UIA employee and now Ministry of Transport mandarin charged with allocating air routes and to whom.

Having defended Mr Kolomoisky’s interests for so long, he now appears to be crumbling under the provincial pressure of Messrs Sadoviy in Lviv and Saakashvili in Odessa, rather than the central pressure from Kyiv that he for so long withstood.  Unemployment would appear to beckon for Mr Antoniuk imminently.

Little appears to have been said, if indeed it is known within the media, about a few recent meetings between Messrs Sadoviy and Saakashvili.  Perhaps given the history of Oblasts being wantonly isolationistic and zealously guarded islands by local elites, there is little imagination given to two robust reformers meeting a few times within a month of Mr Saakashvili’s appointment.

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After all, Mr Sadoviy heads Samopomich and Mr Saakashvili is the president’s man – except of course, Mr Saakashvili is his own man before he is the president’s man.

It is perhaps why, when announcing the appointment of Mr Saakashvili as Governor, the President made a hardly noted comment that he expected Mr Saakashvili to deliver real results within a year of appointment – In short a “firing clause” was publicly announced at the same time as the appointment.  “Results” is a very woolly term, particularly when it is the President that will benchmark them against unknown (if they even exist) criteria.

If Mr Saakashvili’s options in returning to Georgian politics are unlikely to manifest themselves, and the definition of “results” is politically expedient for the President regarding his stay in Ukrainian politics under his patronage, then does it not pay to create linkage between two vitally important Ukrainian Oblasts for the benefit of the nation, and western/southwestern Ukraine as a region (the EU bordering Oblasts), but also have a rapport between two robust reformist politicians, one of whom in Mr Sadoviy, will run for president at the next elections on the back of his Samopomich Party infrastructure and can provide Mr Saakashvili with a like-minded reformist political safety net when the Poroshenko presidential axe inevitably falls – whether it be because there is success beyond expectation, or failure.

Discounting political wild cards such as Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, it seems clear that the preferred presidential and parliamentary electoral showdown would be between President Poroshenko, or any Solidarity Party anointed successor, if as most believe, Mr Poroshenko will be a single term president – and  Andrei Sadoviy and Samopomich.

Whatever the case, there appears to be, if not a thorough deepening of ties (yet), then certainly a far greater interaction between Odessa and Lviv at a business, functionary/mandarin, and leadership level than can ever be recalled.

Something to watch over the next year or more with a view to what is seemingly now a quietly revealed umbilical chord, turning into a safety net, or perhaps an EU bordering provincial power grid.

Meanwhile, we can allow the Ukrainian media to focus minds on a somewhat minor storm in a very small teacup between Messrs Sadoviy and Samopomich, and Klitschko and UDAR – something that has potentially far less interesting repercussions than a genuine and strengthening Odessa – Lviv regional reformist agenda.

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