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Drama (of the political sort) at the Russian Theatre Odessa

December 6, 2016

The Russki Theatre (Russian Drama Theatre) in Odessa is a longstanding and well known historical venue.

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Since 2002 it has been managed by Alyaksandr Kopaygora.

Mr Kopaygora is nothing short of a controversial figure.

To be diplomatic, his management of the Ruski Theatre is far more in keeping with his ideology than managing a premises called Ukrainian Theatre.  To be less diplomatic and somewhat more blunt and also accurate, Mr Kopaygora was a leading ideologue in Igor Markov’s “Rodina Party” in Odessa.

Mr Markov’s party was (it is now officially defunct) robustly pro-Russia.  Indeed Mr Markov is currently living in Russia and actively playing to the Russian propaganda narrative (as a reader would expect).   Mr Markov has stated he will not return to Ukraine for as long as it pursues its “European” trajectory.  (He is also wanted.)  Among that same ideological crowd is Anatoly Wasserman (a man considered by many to be far more odious than Igor Markov).  Messrs Wasserman, Markov and Kopaygora were all leading lights in Party Rodina.

The loyalty to Ukraine is therefore more than questionably thin as far as Mr Kopaygora is concerned for far too many local constituents, and perhaps nominally exists due only to the meager (official) salary he receives from the Ukrainian taxpayer via the State.

(Indeed his anti-Ukrainian activities were reported to the Ministry of Culture in 2015.  As usual when it comes to the Ministry of Culture there was no response – which is why historical architectural buildings in Odessa continue to be bastardised and/or destroyed under the management of a Luddite/Philistine Mayor of no vision, despite the Culture Ministry’s statutory obligations toward protecting many such buildings.)

The Regional State Administration (RSA) of Odessa announced a competition for Mr Kopaygora’s role as his term drew to an end.  Competition (and “competition”) for public roles is now very much en vogue – and for many public positions a matter of law.

Odessa is renowned  for many things, among which are its “intellectual set” and “arty crowd”.  As such there are numerous individuals of suitable calibre capable of managing the Russki Theatre – albeit another was lost to abysmal Ukrainian driving and/or roads only yesterday.  (RIP Dr. Yulia Gomel, composer of symphonies, ballet, chamber and choral music – undoubtedly a loss to the city and Odessa National Music Academy.)

The day the competition winner was due to be announced, 6th December, the Regional State Administration cancelled the contest for the position.

The reason being, it finally succumbed to public pressure.  The public pressure was not aimed at Mr Kopaygora directly – but at the “competition panel”, the composition of which was stuffed with associates of Mr Kopaygora and therefore clearly compromised as far as neutrality is concerned.

Whether a well placed rumour, or a genuine leak, it also became known that law enforcement agencies were quietly taking an interest in the process.  A reader may conclude that if being busted for corruption is a likely outcome, then being busted over a trifling matter of fixing the competition result for the Russki Theatre is probably not worthwhile.  The risk/reward simply isn’t there.

Ergo, 6th December instead of announcing the “competition” result (and probable continuance in the role of Mr Kopaygora), it was announced that the competition had in fact been cancelled.

In sum, a wise decision by those within the RSA.

Clearly efforts will be made to insure the next competition panel is perceived to be far less biased (at least prima facie) and if that be so then it may come to pass that the official relationship between Mr Kopaygora and the Russki Theatre that began in 2002 will ultimately faceits final curtain.

In the meantime as the festive season approaches, the show must go on.

 

 

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