Archive for September 17th, 2017

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A black day. Corruption kills again

September 17, 2017

Not since the events and entries following 2nd May 2014 has an entry relating to local events been so easy to write, and yet so difficult to to write at the same time.

16th September turned into an unscheduled day of mourning for the city.

Three girls aged 8, 9 and 12 died in a fire at the Victoria children’s camp in Odessa.  Other children present thankfully survived, as did the adult supervising.

The accommodation, owned and run by the City was burnt to the ground.

Naturally the most sincere condolences are sent to those mourning parents.

It is to be hoped that the survivors receive the necessary care that such trauma brings – for however long that care is required.

The city was swift to respond, both unofficially with toys and flowers left at the scene, and also the flags of Odessa and Ukraine flown throughout with black sashes adorning each and every one.

Artists such as Boombox that were due to play at the Green Theatre cancelled their shows.

All of the official and expected tributes were somberly and rightly paid.

Naturally thoughts then turn to how did this happen and who is responsible?

Understanding and accountability is required.

There is no mood for a severely flawed and compromised pretense that is meant to imitate an investigation similar to that which followed the fire of 2nd May 2014.  Such incompetence and seemingly deliberate compromising of straightforward investigative work will not be tolerated (again).

It appears the city authorities and Mayor Trukhanov swiftly grasped just how incendiary the public mood is – and also no doubt rapidly tried to ascertain just what role the continued rampant corruption within City Hall played in the circumstances leading up to this tragedy.

Make no mistake – corruption kills.  It drains and siphons finances from crumbling infrastructure that both directly and indirectly could prevent the loss of/or save lives.

Director of the children’s camp,  Petros Sargsyan has been arrested – after first attempting the boiler plate delaying tactics of “heart problems” that require medical attention to delay and/or prevent his detention.  It remains to be seen what the court decision will be regarding his liberty – or not.

Mayor Trukhanov moved quickly to dismiss Mr Sargsyan and his deputy at the children’s camp, as well as Head of Kyivski Rayon Administration Vladimir Sushkov in which the children’s camp was situated.  The Director of the Odessa City Department of Education, Elena Buinevich, resigned.

In short Mayor Trukhanov axing sufficient heads in an effort to show “leadership” – and to attempt to prevent failures (and associated reasons – corruption) reaching him personally.

It is an attempt that has in some regards already failed.

The City owned complex has cost the City budget during the last 3 years alone something in the region of UAH 500 million.  (It is probably also insured for twice that in case there was ever a need for it to be deliberately burnt down by persons unknown.)

It was a complex built of wood, akin to Scandinavian log cabin in appearance – and therefore Ukrainian building standards would require that wood/logs to be thoroughly fire resistant treated – which appears, unsurprisingly, not be be the case, though no doubt that was what was officially paid for.

Questions will have to be asked of the construction companies South-Ukrstroi” and Monolith (both associated with Svetlana Donchenko, Lyubov and Yuri Reznikov who rent large swathes of Otrada beach from City Hall).  Criminal responsibility will have to be ascertained and applied.

A reader will not be surprised to learn that South-Ukrstroi was awarded a UAH 11 million contract (without a sniff of a public tender) in 2016, for the fire alarm system at the Victoria children’s camp – and no, the fire alarm did not sound.  It either failed to work, or was perhaps turned off to insure it woke nobody in the night.

Who at Cit Hall accepted the premises when they were completed as contractually and legally compliant?

At the time of writing it is difficult to arrive at which is the most likely.  A reader should never underestimate stupidity and incompetence, but such is the rampant level of corruption in Odessa City Hall, it is equally likely that the UAH 11 million did not pay for a serviceable fire alarm system.

Who among readers, would bet against many budget payments for fire alarm systems within City owned and run buildings actually failing to result in a working and maintained prevention and detection systems?  It would be a “one scam fits all” model in this case.

The firewater reservoir on the site was empty of water according to the Fire Service.  1.2 kilometers of hose had to be laid to the nearest fire hydrant

It will undoubtedly come to light that there was insufficient (and probably none whatsoever) fire fighting equipment at the complex.

Naturally, not only is the City budget being royally ripped off – but somebody in the Fire Service who carries out the inspections and signs off on fire safety is obviously complicit.  There is no need to stretch the imagination to reach the suspicion that there will be many City owned and run buildings that pass fire prevention inspections that they would otherwise fail if any inspection was actually carried by anybody with even retarded integrity.

Thus 3 dead children are a direct result of a City budget that is probably subject to an estimated UAH 1 million per day in corruption, (discounting fixed and overpriced tenders), the dubious awarding of tenders (avoiding any form of transparent application system), the appearance that nobody from City Hall seems to be checking upon what they (know they are not) paying for, and the institutions upon which the public rely upon, (obviously not to fight corruption) to insure the minimum for their safety are still colluding with, and covering for, the cesspit that Mayor Trukhanov is running.

Ergo, Mayor Trukhanov, being officially in charge of this disgrace and numerous failings from many system and process angles, together with his Deputy Zinaida Tsvirinko (whose responsibilities seem most aligned to this sad incident) not only should consider their positions, but should also be placed under investigation for running something close to a criminal (and/or criminally negligent) organisation.

As a result of the tragic incident, approximately 150 – 200 “patriots” and patriots, “activists” and activists on the afternoon/evening of 16th September and tried to force entry into City Hall to see the Mayor.

(It would now be perhaps only right to inform any reader that may visit Mayor Trukhanov and be surprised to see a uniformed “patriot” in a meeting with him – there are two distinct groups of “patriots” in Odessa.  Those now overly familiar (read co-opted) with Mayor Trukhanov, – and those that are not.  In sum, be neither impressed or manipulated into believing that the forces of ATO and the patriots of Odessa support Mayor Trukhanov.  If there happens to be a veteran sat in camouflage kit at any official meeting, it is form – not substance.  The image is deliberately framed.)

As a result of trying to force entry to City Hall a large brawl with the police and Trukhanov’s Praetorian Guard occured.  Ugly scenes to be entirely blunt.

The National Guard arrived and that managed to encourage a second attempt to storm City Hall – with repeated ugly scenes.

It goes without saying that Mayor Trukhanov did not appear.  It also follows that there are now activist tents once again pitched outside Odessa City Hall.  It seems very unlikely that if Mayor Trukhanov meets with those camped outside City Hall tomorrow, he will accept any responsibility for the corruption he is actively involved in, that is all around him and that he tacitly sanctions, or the deadly and tragic outcome that such thievery and incompetence has delivered.

Unfortunately whilst Mayor Turkhanov does indeed have loyalty and integrity, it is not to Odessa or its constituents, but to business partners and friends (read organised crime).

Naturally he will not resign – though if he did City Hall, pending new elections, would be temporarily under the control of Alex Potapsky – a Goncharenko man, and thus by extension a Poroshenko man.

Having seemingly spent most of August in a Facebook and Instagram “man-love fest” with Sergei Kivalov, that may now prove to have been time well spent – if the Mayor may require the assistance of all those judges that Mr Kivalov has in his pocket.

However while it seems unlikely that any criminal investigation involving the Mayor will be “sanctioned” – this may be a good time for President Poroshenko/The Bankova to renegotiate their deal with Mayor Trukhanov of 2015 – which basically was a deal to curb his pro-Russian/separatist views (and those he controls), and to insure the continuance of illicit money flows to Kyiv, in return for a free hand in continued criminality and theft from the Odessa budget.

As no “separatist” movement will gain any traction in Odessa, there is no need to allow Mayor Trukhanov such a free hand with his nefarious activities.  New rules require making and communicating – together with clear limitations upon his criminal appetite.

Whatever the case, there are prickly and difficult times ahead for City Hall – and a lifetime of pain for the parents involved.

 

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