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A hiatus or a halt to organised criminality in Zatoka?

December 10, 2016

Over the past 12 months, several times has the blog mentioned the organised criminality running amok in Zatoka, Odessa.

Everything from voter fraud on a large scale, to criminal land deals, conspiracy to murder, arson, grievous assaults, forgery, and protection rackets have managed to get a mention due to the complete absence of the rule of law.

As previously explained, that complete absence of the rule of law was due to the fact that all constituent parts of the rule of law were actively engaged in the organised criminality – “For those wishing to acquire occupation of much sought after beach-side territory and/or property at the expense of the longstanding legitimate leaseholders, the following outlines the bureaucratic illegalities/standard criminal schemes.

Those with nefarious intent with the assistance and collusion of the local prosecutors create concocted and imaginary events and incidents that in some way manage to breach a technicality in the lease.  Those with nefarious intent can either do so directly with the local prosecutors, or by first approaching the Belgorod-Dneister court who then contact the local prosecutors with instructions to create and/or find a technicality that can eventually be ruled as being a breach of lease by the Belogorod-Dneister court.

The subsequent court ruling then allows the nefarious interests to bribe, coerce or act in cahoots with the  Zatoka Village Council to cancel the existing lease and issue a new lease to the new and distinctly criminal tenants.

At some point a few years into the lease those then holding the lease will buy the territory and all properties thereon relatively cheaply from the local Village Council – even after accounting for the bribes necessarily involved.

Naturally there is no possible recourse for the legitimate tenants through the local prosecutors, local courts, or Village Council – all of whom are involved.”

All such information was hardly secret – at least it could be easily obtained for those that wanted to lift the stone and see what horrors lurked beneath.  Such is the depth of organised criminality in Zatoka the last blog entry concluded – “If the regional rule of law institutions cannot (for whatever reason) implement the rule of law swiftly, why not bring in a team from another region – Lviv or Dnipro for example – that have no connection to Odessa to investigate?  There is an audit/documented trail for this scheme to operate after all – and for each and every attempt.

Unless events in Zatoka are tackled immediately, robustly and vigorously then they are going to continue as was unfortunately predicted in the tweet above – and that will do little for public confidence with regard to the perceived sanctity of property rights under the current national leadership, let alone attempts at creating the perception of reformed governance and the institutions of State.”

It appears that the rule of law has finally arrived in what appears prima facie to be a robust and vigorous fashion.

k

On 10th December, 18 months after a persistent and barely hidden issue became an acute and blatant issue, Directorate K of the SBU, the PGO and National Police descended upon Zakota conducting searches and making numerous arrests.

Considering the outline of organised criminality above, a reader will not be surprised to learn that among the arrests were local government officials, prosecutors, police, SBU and judges with 50 crimes now under investigation ranging from voter fraud to conspiracy to murder (according to Interior Minister Facebook) – indeed all criminality described above that was guaranteed to be found once the political/institutional will to look under the Zatoka rock was found.

It remains to be seen what charges will be brought and against who.

Thereafter it remains to be seen how a justice system yet to see reform convincingly manifest will actually deliver justice for those in Zatoka that have suffered increasingly blatant organised criminality for years.  They are long overdue both justice and restitution.

Just as importantly, it remains to be seen whether the rule of law will effectively fill the void created by its actions taken on 10th December – or whether organised criminality will once again fill the void it may have temporarily left if this proves to be nothing more than a hit and run by the institutions of the rule of law.

Minister Avakov would be well advised to remember that in any battle it is one thing to take the ground, but quite another to hold it.

Time will tell whether the Minister and his ministry have a plan to consolidate and defend any rule of law gain that will come as a result of their operational efforts in Zatoka of 10th December.

As of yet, the job is not even half done.

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