Archive for November 18th, 2017

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Where was Trukhanov? The natives are getting restless again

November 18, 2017

Things are starting to bubble over in Odessa due to the decisions of City Hall.

City Hall, and in particular Mayor Trukhanov, continue to increasingly ignore their constituency and societal ire is rising.

It may be that the citizens of Odessa will accept paying well over the odds for new pavements and/or road repairs by companies within the orbit of Mayor Trukhanov.  They may also have grown accustomed to the numerous scams (four NABU visits and counting) to Odessa City Hall.

There are then the numerous other scams and schemes that simply do not appear on the NABU radar – such as leasing prime real estate in the historic city centre to City Hall selected lessees with a first right of refusal to purchase in the lease.  A few weeks, or sometimes a month later, those properties are then be sold by City Hall to the lessee – well under valuation – thus avoiding the legal requirement for public tender in selling off such stock.  A reader naturally can presume either backhanders to City Hall, or that the lessee/purchaser is somehow in the orbit of somebody within City Hall.

But Mayor Trukhanov and his City Hall have no real vision for the city, nor it appears much love for it.

There has manifest a litany of construction and/or architectural obscenities that increasingly scar the city centre under his watch.

Sometimes buildings miraculously appear with far more levels than planning permission granted – with City Hall acting (infer deliberately) to prevent such illegal construction far too late.  Other times the Mayor has stated that if such monstrosities were not built on a particular plot, then the plot would not be built upon at all as nobody would buy it.  – Then let it sit empty – better that than the disfigurement of the city centre.!

The disaster that Arcadia has become after Mayor Trukhanov facilitated his (literal) old partner in crime to buy and develop it, notwithstanding an on-going war of exhaustion with the local constituency over the future of The Green Theatre in Shevchenko Park, and the continued attempts of City Hall enabled cultural/architectural vandalism on Fransuski Boulivard should be a warning – and it appears the citizens of Odessa have taken heed.

The latest incident occurred on 18th November – though it was blatantly obvious for the proceeding week that unless there was a formal and forceful interjection by the Mayor it was unavoidable.

There was no interjection by Mayor Trukhanov – indeed he has been entirely absent throughout the buildup to, and during the latest violent incident in the very heart of the city.

Gorsad, or the City Garden, is a much loved and aesthetically pleasing area in the very centre of Odessa, situated just off of Deribasovskaya.  It is a green space, with paths, a bandstand, numerous park benches and a number of very busy restaurants around the periphery.   To say Gorsad is a popular place for the residents of Odessa is an understatement.  People care about it.  A lot.

In one corner of Gorsad is the open air Summer Theatre.  It is here that the latest trouble stirs.

It became known that the Summer Theatre will be developed.  What is not known is what “developed” means.

There are no development plans.  The developer has stated plans will be made public in February 2018.  (For the sake of accuracy, this land plot is subject to a 49 year lease to Soling (Cyprus) for UAH 1.5 million.  Soling is part of a chain of Cypriot shell companies including Maresenia Investments.  Discovering which Ukrainian(s) sit behind this Cypriot trail is currently work in progress.)

In under 36 hours a petition to prevent “development” of the site far surpassed the minimum number of signatures to force City Hall to consider objections.  A record!

In response, Mayor Trukhanov held somewhat hastily organised press conference – at which he personally did not attend.

Indeed so hasty was it that it appears only the media outlets friendly toward the Mayor were present.  Heading the presser was Mark Gordienko, a man who was a leading EuroMaidan light in 2014 in Odessa, who then led the “local self-defence” network of Odessa, and got rather tight with, but was not part of (the fleeting appearance of) Right Sector in Odessa.

Time stands still for no man of course.

Come 2017, Right Sector is a nonentity in Odessa – National Corpus takes what few ideologically driven far right individuals there are.  Further Right Sector apparently fell out with Mr Gordienko relating to allegations it made against over the misappropriation of funds meant for ATO – which he denied.

Between 2015 and 2017, Mr Gordienko (and his adherents) was co-opted by Mayor Trukhanov.  Thus the ATO veterans of Odessa are split between the co-opted Trukhanov/Gordienko vets, and those that claim to be the real “patriots” that won’t be bought off.  Resentment builds.

During the press conference Mr Goridienko assured, despite no official position atop City Hall or as Mayor Trukhanov’s official spokesman, that no high rise and no shopping mall will be built upon the Summer Theatre plot.  Indeed there will not if the violence of 18th November be but a forerunner to any attempt to “develop” the plot under anything other than excruciating, daily, public scrutiny.  Unfortunately for Mr Goridienko, whatever political/moral capital he may have gained during EuroMaidan, now being seen by many as a Trukhanov lackey, that capital has eroded enormously – thus for Mayor Trukhanov there is a diminishing return in putting him before the public in his place.

However, a few nights ago, overnight metal gates appeared at the entrance to the Summer Theatre, and CCTV also.

This aggravated the situation yet more.  Further, rumours circulated throughout the numerous social media groups in Odessa that many trees were to be felled on the plot as well.

Naturally nobody trusts Mayor Trukhanov when it comes to the development of the city.  His track record, aside from overpriced pavements by companies in his orbit, is truly abysmal when it comes to sensitively developing the city.

Thus, a call to protest on 18th November went out.  A lot of people turned up.  A number of late twenties/early thirties (mothers of the next generation) women known to this blog attended – their first ever protest in most cases.  An indicator perhaps at how irked the populous have become with the “city development” under this City Hall.

Clearly the mood was one of anger and agitation – and there was little chance that the newly erected gates preventing the public seeing what was happening inside the land plot, or the newly installed CCTV, would last the day.

The police were outnumbered (and a reader should not be surprised if many of their number hold more than a little sympathy for the cause of the protesters – for the police also live in the city).

As a result, there were mass brawls between protesters and police.  Odessa Police Chief Golovin received head injuries and 6 officers were also hurt.  There were no reports of any protesters being injured.  Criminal proceedings have been opened.

However, the protesters indeed successfully removed the metal gates and carried them to City Hall, where they were left.  The CCTV didn’t last either.

This is not the first time Mayor Trukhanov has been absent when his voters have demanded his attendance and/or action.  It won’t be the last either.  Neither will this be the last protest to turn violent due to the mismanagement/criminality/schemes (delete as appropriate) of City Hall when it comes to (often criminally) disfiguring the city.

What explains the absence of the Ministry of Culture involvement with regard to the historical city centre in particular, is open to debate.

Yet unless within the next 15 months a candidate is found to run against Mayor Trukhanov with a realistic chance of winning, and/or The Bankova decides all previous understandings with Mayor Trukhanov are over, then at the time of writing, his reelection seems an almost certainty.

That being so, once reelected, whatever guarantees or promises that are made now by the Mayor (as and when he resurfaces after all those smelly, poor, ungrateful, angry people have gone) are probably only good until the day after his reelection – if they are worth anything at all.

Perhaps the only certainty ahead is that the police of Odessa will become one of the nation’s most experienced public (dis)order units.

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