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Putting political bums on seats of local power – Odessa (A told you so tale)

November 13, 2015

A few weeks ago an entry was published detailing the likely political shenanigans and maneuvering in post-local election environment of Odessa.

With regard to the probably outcomes – shenanigans, grubby deals and politicking being fairly predictable – it stated the following:  “Clearly Governor Saakashvili would want to see Maria Gaidar installed as Olbast Rada Chair. She is surely a capable and likable candidate – but she is seen as part of “Team Saakashvili”. Thus despite many within the “Goncharenko Solidairty camp” highly rating and liking Ms Gaidar (and rightly so), their support for her candidacy seems unlikely.”

Unlikely it was indeed.  In fact Ms Gaidar wisely did not participate in the elections for Chair or Deputy Chair of the Oblast Rada – an avoidable political bloody nose for the Governor was and sensibly duly avoided.

“That said the “Goncharenko camp” has no volunteers for the role – for it means working with Governor Saakashvili. Similarly, few if any “Team Saakashvili” within Solidarity would vote for a “Goncharenko camp” candidate.

As stated yesterday, a more neutral Solidarity candidate does want the role, Yuri Maslov – yet he will struggle to get support from either of the fractious poles within Solidarity easily.

And so this came to pass also – Yuri Maslov not standing for election due to insufficient support.  A volunteer from the Solidarity Party was eventually forthcoming – more of that later.

“Naturally the 23 Opposition Block deputies will vote for Mykola Skoryk. Neither Solidarity camps will do so. Neither will the 11 deputies of Trukhanov’s Trust Affair party. They are likely to vote for a Solidarity candidate, for they will generally fall in line with Solidarity unless Kolomoisky’s interests are seriously challenged. The question therefore is which Solidarity? The answer is clearly not the Saakashvili-Solidarity following the events and rhetoric of the mayoral elections. By default (and by design which will become apparent soon), they will head toward the Goncharenko-Solidarity.”

Indeed, so passes Mykola Skoryk who stood for election as Chair but failed – leading to a disgruntled Opposition Block faction that left the Chamber prior to the elections of the Deputy Chairs.  Opposition Block dummies spat forcefully from their collective cot across the voting chamber.

“The 11 Batkivshchyna deputies will vote as they are told by Yulia Tymoshenko – free thinking and values driven individuality and voting is not a Batkivshchyna Party trait and never has been. It is very unlikely that Mykola Skoryk of the Opposition Block would be supported, thus it is a question of whether she backs Saakashvili-Solidarity (with an eye on early Verkhovna Rada elections and the possible/probably arrival of “Team Saakashvili” in the political halls of Kyiv), or backs Goncharenko-Solidarity.”

They indeed voted for Solidarity, for reasons that will become apparent.

“The 7 deputies of Nash Krai will vote for a Solidarity candidate, for it is a party that will vote for “the power” – whomever “the power” maybe. Ergo it will consistently support Solidarity for the foreseeable future. And with the near future in mind, it is likely to vote in line with the Goncharenko-Solidarity rather than the Saakashvili-Solidarity side of the party.

And lo so did this come to pass too – and also for good reason as readers will soon discover.

“Lastly the 7 deputies of Igor Kolomoisky’s Vidrodedzhennya are unlikely to vote for the Saakashvili-Solidarity due to the Governor’s public position against Mr Kolomoisky. Unless Messrs Kolomoisky and Firtash/Liovochkin strike a deal within the next 48 hours (which they won’t as the numbers don’t add up even if they wanted to), then Vidrodedzhennya will not vote for Mykola Skoryk either. This leaves only the Goncharenko-Solidarity candidate – if one can be found willing to work with Governor Saakashvili.”

Rather irrelevant, considering Maria Gaidar was wise enough not to stand and the clear lack of support for Mykola Skoryk.

Thus in the absence of Ms Gaidar’s candidacy (or any other identifiable “Governor’s candidate”), and with no willing “Solidarity-Goncharenko” candidate the question was who would be the Solidarity candidate to run against Mykola Skoryk (and win).

The answer is Anatoly Urbanski, who certainly had the support of “Goncharenko-Solidairty” and seemingly some also “Saakashvili-Solidarity” too – Ms Gaidar being one such vocal supporter.  A consensus and peace-making Solidarity candidate perhaps, for he is not the most experienced of local politicians but also has no robust affiliations to either the Governor’s side nor that of Alexie Goncharenko within Solidarity – at least not yet.

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A reduction of the Solidarity schisms for the sake of progress in Odessa would be wise for both Governor and Mr Goncharenko now the local political landscape is set, although it remains to be seen if that is the case with an obvious “Goncharenko man” in Mr Potapsky becoming Secretary of the Council (second to the Mayor) in City Hall, ahead of Sasha Borovik who was Number 1 on the official Solidarity party list.

Regardless however, Mayor Trukhanov has a slightly more problematic situation without the trusted Oleh Brindak as Secretary, and Mr Borovik is as capable of crying “foul” over Mr Potapsky’s shenanigans as he is over those of the Mayor.

Elected as First Deputy Chair in the Oblast Rada was Batkivshchyna deputy Oleh Radkovsky – an individual known to be personally close to Yulia Tymoshenko.  His election naturally supported by Batkivshchyna, and also Solidarity with Nash Krai.

Elected as Deputy Chair was Georgi Dimchenko of Nasha Krai.  He of course had Nash Krai backing, and also had the support of Batkivshchyna, as well as the natural support of Solidarity with Nash Krai being a pro-Presidential party, and for those that smell a power-splitting deal between Nash Krai, Batkivshchyna and Solidarity, well that sense of smell would not be mistaken.

The outcome in Odessa Oblast is a pro-Presidential Governor, a Solidarity Chair, a formal “coalition ally” as First Deputy Chair and pro-Presidential Nash Krai as Deputy Chair.

The Solidarity first, Batkivshchyna second and Nash Krai third in “power seats” of the Oblast Rada, mirroring the national trend in the local elections results whereby Solidarity received the largest number of seats across the country reaching 8,417. Batkivschyna has the second highest number of local councilors with 7,653 people, and third came Nash Kray with 4,397 local deputies throughout the regions.

The Mayor’s Trust Affairs party it has to be said, did not expect any seats of power in the Oblast Rada, with the Mayor already sitting in the top City Hall chair, though it will be unhappy at Alexie Goncahrenko’s Mr Potapsky now being Secretary of the Council.

All in all, not the best (nor worst) of days from the Governor, nor the Mayor when it came to putting “chosen bums on chosen seats”.  A reasonable day for Alexie Goncharenko, but far from a good day for the Opposition Block gaining nothing in the Oblast Rada where they have the most seats (by one) of any individual party, and losing Oleh Brindak as Secretary of the City Council, who was an ex-Regionaire they could “work with”.

The local political scene is now set – we shall now see who can make what of it (and whether any benefits to Odessa will appear.)

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