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Odessa Governor pays bail for city brawler – Rule of law

November 27, 2017

Not 10 days ago an entry appeared relating to the brawls between local people and the police of Odessa over the very unwelcome shenanigans of Mayor Trukhanov and City Hall and proposed construction in one of the possibly two most loved parts of the historical city centre – Gorsad (City Garden).

The “Summer Theatre” has been leased to Soling (Cyprus) by City Hall – which is an entity very much within the orbit of one of Mayor Trukhanov’s longtime organised crime partners, Vladimir Galaternik.

As a result of the violence (videos in the above link) in the very heart of the city, Mayor Trukhanov has said nothing.  Nor did he appear before the public.  20 people were injured, including the Police Chief of Odessa (who appears far too “comfortable” among the city “elite” these days).

The Oblast Governor, a position that historically rarely, if ever, has interfered in the affairs of City Hall, appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office regarding the legality of the lease and any planned construction – and rightly so, as tempers of the city residents over this incident are raised.

Any further attempt by Mr Galaternik and Mayor Turkhanov to permanently deface Gorsad (as occurred in Arcadia, and has been attempted along Fransuski Boulevard, Shevchenko Park) will only pour fuel on an increasingly hot fire.

Whether the Governor has taken this route to try and bring the matter back within the rule of law (such as it is), or whether the Governor has taken this course of action to add yet more pressure on a City Hall that has been subjected to at least four NABU visits (with more undoubtedly to follow) remains to be seen.  Perhaps both.  There are elections soon coming and both Oblast and City Hall will be expected to provide administrative resources if required in an attempt to insure the reelection of President Poroshenko, and latterly the Verkhovna Rada (notwithstanding the Mayor and City Hall itself).  City Hall, via Mayor Trukhanov, is running amok and the leash requires shortening.

Among those alleged to have orchestrated the violence at which the police suffered (even if some among them are also adamantly against the defacement of Gorsad) is Sergei Sternenko – the former leader of Right Sector in Odessa, now turned “activist”.

He and another alleged leader/agent provocateur have been arrested since the incident occurred and have been subsequently remanded – with the possibility of bail in Mr Sternenko’s case.

On 27th November, the Odessa Governor, Maxim Stepanov, paid the UAH 600,000 bail (approximately $22,500) to grant Mr Sternenko his liberty.

The Governor in a statement attempted to distance his public office from his personal motivation to free Mr Sternenko, stating – “I want my position to be clear and transparent, this is my human reaction to injustice. A pledge of 600 thousand hryvnas for someone who threw himself at the police and 128 thousand Hryvnia pledges to whose conscience damaged the lives of children in the camp “Victoria.”  Where is justice here?”

Naturally, few will readily accept the attempt at distancing his political position from his personal integrity.  The Governor could have had somebody else post the bail as a cut out if such a division of public and private persona was paramount.

Further, it is perhaps of political use to have Mr Sternenko at liberty.  He provides a motivational/organising force for the next time Mayor Trukhanov goes way too far in his plundering and permanent disfigurement of Odessa.

The Governor went further regarding law enforcement however, unambiguously stating that he supports both the police and the rule of law, and that he does not support the criticisms of the police action that day.  He also appeared to claim that the police had disrupted plans for a “revenge brawl” on behalf of those leasing the land.

His statement concluded “I, for my part, do everything necessary for the Summer Theater to become an integral part of the City Garden. The founders of Odessa gave the city a garden not for the profit of shameful dealers. They created a beautiful city. And the city should remain beautiful.”

Fair warning to Mayor Trukhanov and Mr Galaternik?  Perhaps so – at least until after the 2019 elections, and insofar as this particular location is concerned.

Enough to keep a lid on a severely irked city citizenry?  Probably with regard to Gorsad for a while, but Mayor Trukhanov is a man with no vision, and a man who likes money – however it comes.   He will assuredly provoke the local constituency again with odious and ugly schemes in the historical city centre.

In fact the “Seaman’s Palace” on what is probably the second most sacred part of the old city – Primorsky Boulevard – is likely to be the scene of the next violent incident.  A reader should expect, come February 2018, plans to be unveiled for a 7 story hotel upon a street replete with local history where no old buildings are higher than 3 floors.

There is simply no way the people of the city will allow it without a (probably literal) fight.  There will be further violence.  Mr Sternenko, already on bail for forcibly taking issues to City Hall over the crimes of Victoria (linked above) and the skulduggery and absolute thoughtlessness planned for Gorsad, will inevitably be arrested yet again.

Undoubtedly he will not be the only one.

More police officers will be injured, and members of the public too.

Mayor Trukhanov will go into hiding again.

Average, otherwise law abiding people will be arrested, in the full knowledge they will be arrested, having no faith in an Odessa courts protecting the city and their heritage above the vested interests of Mayor Trukhanov and those in his orbit.

From the perspective of The Bankova and Cabinet of Ministers, the people of Odessa will note the complete absence, once again, of the feckless wonders at the Ministry of Culture – a State ministry that has a legislative say over what happens in the historical city centre of Odessa.  (As one of the directors at the Odessa Philharmonic, it is no secret as to just how completely absent the Ministry of Culture is, and just how cosseted, and therefore uniformed, the Minister is kept by those around him.)

Of course none of this would be happening if there was rule of law in the city – but there isn’t the moment the veneer is scratched away.

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