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Odessa City Hall’s Praetorian Guard (an idea that seemingly won’t die)

April 23, 2016

Around 24th March 2015 Mayor Trukhanov contemplated  the creation a “Municipal Police/Guard” which fortunately never came to fruition – crushed by the Interior Ministry.

Just over 1 year later, the idea is being seriously floated once again, this time under the brand “City Watch”.

“City Watch” is being created to “help police control the city“.  It’s leadership, as is its creators, politicians from within Odessa City Hall.  City Hall deputies Sergey Chervyakov, Bogdan Giganova from Opposition Block,  Vladimir Vareschenko Block Poroshenko, Trust in Deeds deputy Dmitry Palpatine and deputy Vladimir Kornienko from Ukrainian Marine Party.

There is no legal basis for such an entity with regard to involvement in law enforcement.  It will have no statutory powers of stop and search, nor any power of arrest or detention granted by law as those specifically to the police.  Any power of arrest is no more than the same power of arrest granted to any citizen of Ukraine – which is limited to “found committing” offences where circumstances in the “protection of life and property” permits intervention.

Therefore a politically controlled mob with no legal foundation to assist in policing, and no statutory powers to actually police may make a reader ponder whether the city police either need or want help to “control the city“.  As this is prima facie a political project, and not an a-political institution like the police, it seems highly unlikely it will actually benefit city policing.

What appears to be the case is another attempt to create a Praetorian Guard for City Hall.  It will come as no surprise when the police have to police “City Watch” when its members go far beyond any legal powers they think they may have, but actually haven’t.

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There is no comfort to be taken by what appears to be cross party leadership, for political party affiliation means nothing more than a ticket to ride to City Hall upon.  With parties devoid of ideology and the City Hall deputy mandate for most being nothing more than membership of an elite and often nefarious business club, any inferred “checks and balances” via rival party ideology is an entirely false facade.  Few would be surprised if “City Watch” turns into nothing more than rent-a-mob for vested interests.

It is unclear just what part of city life these local politicians deem to be uncontrolled that requires “City Watch” to help control them.  Mobs are not running amok.  Violent protests are not swamping the city.  The only public protest gatherings are legitimate, peaceful and ever-growing against City Hall and Mayor Trukhanov.

Coincidence?  Probably not.

Many reformers and civil activists will conclude, perhaps rightly, that the creation of “City Watch” is nothing more than a politically controlled rent-a-mob/titushek/illegitimate paramilitary.  (“City Watch” will be staffed by demobilised volunteer battalions.)

When Mayor Trukhanov announced the creation of a City Hall security department, and then “City Watch” was born to “help police control the city”, it is time to put an end is nonsense before “City Watch” becomes an established entity from which there is clearly little good that is likely to come – aside from employment for demobilized volunteer battalion personnel.  If the city politicians feel obliged to find the demobilised volunteers work in Odessa – politically controlled pretend policemen that will be perceived to be the Praetorian Guard and rent-a-mob of City Hall in equal measure is not the way to do it.

All in all, this is a very, very bad idea (with potentially grievous outcomes).

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