Kivalov pulls out of elections for Mayor – Odessa

October 11, 2015

It has to be said that when Sergei Kivalov stated he would runs for Mayor of Odessa is was something of a surprise.

The reason it was a surprise was that if he had ever wanted to be Mayor of Odessa, he could have engineered it long ago – and to be entirely blunt, becoming Mayor of Odessa now would make absolutely no sense as when you are as nefarious as he, the absolute immunity (and impunity) that comes with being a parliamentarian of the Verkhovna Rada is more or less a requirement to avoid either going on the run or or going to jail for past and current deeds.  To become Mayor means resigning as a parliamentarian and losing that (necessary) immunity.

Ergo when he decided to run for Mayor of Odessa, his intention was certainly not to win.  There were other reasons.

As previously written when pondering why he decided to run – “……realistically there are two reasons. The first is that his local political party Morskaya was predicted in the opening link to garner between 5% – 7% and thus just make it over the 5% threshold to take up seats on the city council. Mr Kivalov wanted to garner 10% of the vote which is extremely unlikely. In fact the 5% threshold is far too close for comfort. Therefore by running for mayor, Mr Kivalov will hope to give his party a small boost in an effort to insure the 5% threshold is passed. To be blunt he needs his party in the city council to sit on committees that will try and look after his (legitimate and also nefarious) interests.

The second reason is to deliberately force a second round of voting, even though he will probably not be in the second round himself.

The last possibility is two-time previous Mayor of Odessa, Eduard Gurvitz.

Mr Gurvitz may have always been of the “Orange” political stripe and Mr Kivalov of the “Blue” political stripe, but Odessa is a mercantile city and business has always trumped politics. Mr Gurvitz and Mr Kivalov are very, very good friends and have been for a long, long time. Both are also known for their highly questionable dealings historically.

Ergo, putting Mr Kivalov’s slim chances to one side, the motivation for his running is twofold. An electoral “bump” for his Morskaya party and also to split the Trukhanov vote with the intention of Mr Gurvitz getting to the second round.”

So why has he now decided to withdraw from the mayoral electoral race 2 weeks prior to polling day?  Certainly not because somebody threw a grenade into his garden yesterday, despite his announcement to withdraw following that incident.


Anybody who knows Sergei Kivalov (and your author does), will be quite aware that lobbing a grenade into his garden is not going to be the reason for his withdrawal.  (Indeed many who know him would probably think it was done deliberately to provide a justification for withdrawing when the decision had already been made.)

It is hard to see how this withdrawal will help his old friend and mayoral candidate Eduard Gurvitz.  Regardless of officially announced results in elections past, Mr Gurvitz’s actual vote count has always been between 100,000 and 110,000 votes (despite what any official returns may have said historically).  By withdrawing and thus failing to split the Mayor Trukhanov vote does not really help Mr Gurvitz, it rather plays to the advantage of Mr Trukhanov.

So have Mayor Trukhanov and Sergei Kivalov done a deal?  If so what sort of deal?  Cash?  Favours?  Threats and/or blackmail?  If so, who was doing what to who that resulted in this withdrawal?

Is there a deal with an unknown third party?

Which third party gains the most from Mayor Trukhanov remaining Mayor Trukhanov (other than organised crime).  Is it the Opposition Block that have decided not to field their own candidate to try and insure a Trukhanov win?  Trukhanov is the least worst option from an Opposition Block perspective.

Is it another third party?  If so who?  Ihor Kolomoisky?  He gets on quite well with Mayor Trukhanov as they have shared nefarious interest in the ports remaining corrupted.

Perhaps somebody else?

Was he suddenly struck by a genuine fear that he may actually win and thus lose his immunity upon taking up the mayoral role?  He is under investigation upon the testimony of former-Governor Igor Palitsa for funding separatists in Odessa, as well as his business and educational entities for embezzling State funds.  Immunity is rather important to him right now.  To have been struck by such a genuine fear would defy the reality that he was extremely unlikely to win.

As he is already named upon the printed electoral ballot papers, is the intention to cause an electoral farce – for there will be some that vote for him despite his withdrawal because his name appears (and his political party runs) on the ballor paper.  If a farce is desired, then to what end?  Who does that help, how, why and for how long?

As much as his entry into the mayoral race was a surprise, his withdrawal from the race is even more difficult to understand.  Mr Kivalov is certainly not the most intelligent of politicians, but he is certainly one of the most adept when it comes to understanding and employing leverage, manipulating internal power dynamics, the accumulation of kompromat, and insuring his own political survival.

Currently his withdrawal seems to make little sense.  Perhaps it will all become far clearer over the next few days.   Whatever the case, the reelection of Mayor Trukhanov now seems beyond any reasonable doubt.

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