Archive for February, 2018


A BIIR victory in the courts of Odessa – What’s next?

February 28, 2018

In mid October 2017, an entry appeared painting in broad brushstrokes the nefarious circumstances surrounding the purchase of commercial property in Odessa by the Danish engineering company BIIR – taking the unusual step of publishing within it a letter by the Danish Ambassador relating to the incident, when normally such correspondence is received and dealt with far more discreetly.

Naturally the Danish embassy was not the only entity lobbying on behalf of BIIR – some behind the curtain, whilst others were active before it.  Eventually parliamentarians from Odessa were encouraged to take on the issue.

Suffice to say that the Appellate Court of Odessa on 27th February finally ruled in favour of BIIR – after more than 9 months of legal proceedings, oft canceled, and witnessing something of a (deliberate) merry-go-round of local judges as well.

Nevertheless, eventually a just verdict has arrived – despite more than 9 months of unnecessarily poor media for Odessa regarding this foreign investor.  Such is still the nature of things.

Hurrah and huzzah!  A victory not only for BIIR (and those lobbying on their behalf – paid or otherwise), but also for the rule of law.

Yet there are now further hurdles for BIIR to jump with regard to the City Administration.

Having now legally been acknowledged as the rightful owners, the ramshackle, nay derelict property that sits at the bottom of the newly redesigned and rather splendid Istanbul Park, requires demolishing and a new eco-friendly facility capable of accommodating an expanding workforce (up to 500) has to be built.

Ergo, there remains a lot of bureaucracy with City Hall to negotiate before BIIR eventually have the asset they originally planned – and the nefarious antagonist who lost at the Appellate Court is hardly without solid connections within City Hall to make such matters “difficult”.

It remains to be seen whether BIIR will benefit from the current problems surrounding Mayor Turkhanov, thus insuring a smooth bureaucratic ride – or not.  The winners and losers of Mayor Trukhanov’s circumstances are not yet entirely clear.

Arguably, for now, MP Alexie Goncharenko’s influence within City Hall has increased with Mayor Trukhanov at liberty under the personal guarantee of MP Dmitry Golubov – who is very close to Mr Goncharenko.

Alexie Goncharenko was privately lobbied to take a stand for BIIR – and he did (as the blog knew he would).

However that does not necessarily equate to a smooth bureaucratic ride through City Hall and the absence of yet more unnecessarily unhelpful headlines for Odessa – particularly so when 2019 elections can change the entire political scenery.

It takes only the bureaucratic wheels to deliberately turn slowly enough for the political machinery to change – and with it any hopes of demolition and construction work may yet end up another cause for legal jousting in an Odessa court.

For now a victory for BIIR and the rule of law to be celebrated – until the next battle for the rule of law.


Anti-corruption court legislation – Supporting a poor law on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada this week

February 27, 2018

It’s been a while since the blog made mention of the draft anti-corruption court legislation submitted by The Bankova in December 2017 (the submission deliberately timed to avoid any vote upon it during 2017).

The IMF, World Bank, EU, USA, Canada, Japan and numerous other “supportive nations and entities” all followed either publicly or privately with terse and prickly commentary regarding the text of Draft Bill submitted by The Bankova.

Yet it appears that Draft Bill 7440 (unchanged from The Bankova submission that drew such ire) will be included by hook or by crook upon the Verkhovna Rada agenda this week – possibly resulting in a vote on Thursday 1st March 2018.

Clearly the Presidential Draft 7440 stands far more chance of getting past the Verkhovna Rada Profile Committee and making it to a vote this week than the other existing and submitted drafts relating to the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Court by lesser legislative mortals.

Ergo Draft Bills 7440-2, 7440-3 and 7440-4 are all likely to be put to the Profile Committee sword, ne’er to see a parliamentary vote.

A keen-eyed reader will note the absence of a Draft Bill 7440-1 mentioned above.

To be clear, Draft Bill 7440-1 is another Bankova Draft Bill that relates to amendments to the law on the judiciary and status of judges, and is aimed at synchronising that existing legislation with Draft Bill 7440.

Thus a reader may reasonably expect that both Draft Bill 7440 and 7440-1 will find the necessary votes within the Verkhovna Rada this week – on the proviso the relevant Profile Committee fast tracks the Draft Bills with a favourable nod to the parliamentary chamber for vote.

However, despite The Bankova draft bill causing consternation among almost all external “supporters” of Ukraine, the passing at the first reading of Bill 7440 (and 7440-1) should probably be viewed as progress.

From a Bankova perspective the Bill and its passing will have dragged on sufficiently to wind down the legislative clock some, and further make a fully functioning anti-corruption court almost an impossibility prior to the 2019 elections of for both president and Verkhovna Rada.

From a societal and external “supporter” perspective there is legislative progress – albeit closer The Bankova timetable than that which could otherwise be achieved with genuine political will – of which there is little (as evident from the Draft Bill text that clearly requires amendment to produce a genuinely independent anti-corruption court of integrity).

What will matter then are the amendments that occur between the passing of the Bill at its first reading (possibly on 1st March) and the subsequent passing of a final reading prior to presidential signature and publication.

Readers of the blog over the years have become well acquainted with the masses of amendments that occur between readings – sometimes amendments in counted in the thousands, often in the hundreds, and occasionally in far fewer quantities relating to almost all Verkhovna Rada legislation.  There have been occasions whereby a law passed in its first reading is substantially amended both in text and spirit, prior to a second and final reading.

Thus, despite the significant issues within the current text of The Bankova Draft Bill, should this law make it through a first reading this week, it should be perhaps considered progress – despite the current contents that brought such a barbed reaction from many quarters.

As such perhaps a little objectivity should be given to the probable wailing and lamenting that may yet fill the media space based upon the current text of Draft Bill 7440.

What will result from a successful first Verkhovna Rada reading and vote will assuredly not be the final text after a second successful Verkhovna Rada vote some months from now.  Of crucial importance is the quality and acceptability of all (and there will be many) amendments put forward to arrive at a final text.

This process will, naturally, run down the legislative and electoral campaign clock per Bankova design, whilst still being seen to be doing something – albeit none are blind to what The Bankova is doing or why.

So, should a reader support the passing of the currently flawed Bankova Bill 7440 relating to the Anti-Corruption Court by the Verkhovna Rada this week?

The answer – Yes.  The alternative is to await the withdrawal of the Draft Bill and a re-submission of another more acceptable Draft, which is hardly a timely bureaucratic affair.

Then it is a matter of keeping a hawkish eye upon both the nature and quality of amendments, and also just how far The Bankova can run down the clock to insure that such a court will not be functioning before 2020.


Trukhanov’s lawyer should put down his shovel

February 23, 2018

To avoid a lengthy and link-heavy entry relating to the (possible) unraveling of nefarious deeds, conspiracies and now prima facie lies around Odessa Mayor, Gennady Turkhanov a reader is encouraged to employ this link, and then the many links therein to glean a broad brushstroke picture of unfolding events and their causes.  Alternatively, simply put “Trukhanov” into the search facility of the blog, to be found top right of the Home Page.

Suffice to say all personal, personnel and corporate details, notwithstanding the intricacies of the criminal acts, within the relevant posts from October 2016 to date appear vindicated by the latest NABU public declaration.

Unfortunately, whether Mayor Turkhanov (and his numerous co-accused) considers this to besmirch his character or not, the latest actions in an effort to whitewash such perceived stains upon his character have backfired somewhat.

Alexandr Lysak, the lawyer acting for Mayor Turkhanov, at a court hearing on 22nd February, made a statement to the effect that “taking into account the possible consequences for the city of Odessa, the commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, Vice-Admiral Igor Voronchenko, as well as the commanders of the 79th Separate Assault Brigade and the 8th Special Forces Regiment of the Special Forces operations appeal not to dismiss the Mayor.

Similar appeals were sent to the court by dozens of public organizations, among them “Odessa JazzFest”, “Road to Home”, Union of Afghan Veterans, Union of ATU veterans of the 18th Battalion, organization of ATO “Pobratimy”, Veterans of the Storm Battalion, Association LGBT Liga, Association of Parents of Children with Chromosomal Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Sun Children, Democratic Youth of Ukraine, Peresypchanka, Panteleimon Healer, Association of Odessa Builders, and others.”

A much loved Mayor, fully recognised for his care for the city it seems – and indeed there would perhaps be support from the Union of Afghan Veterans, for Mayor Trukhanov used to head it.  Likewise some ATO Vets are employed by City Hall as part of the Trukhanov created “Municipal Guard” (Odessa City Hall’s own Praetorian Guard) – while other ATO Vets are vocally and visibly anti-Trukhanov.

There are naturally many reliant upon keeping solid relations with City Hall too, and yet others who may feel indebted to Mayor Trukhanov for having done the right thing to do on their behalf – as the LGBT Association makes clear in their letter of support.

The point of the lawyerly exercise being to put a veneer of both respectability and a seemingly irreplaceability upon the person of Mayor Trukhanov (despite his long known history of organised criminality).  Ergo it would be important not to fluff this character whitewashing by tainting it with falsehoods unnecessarily.  There are times to stop digging the hole you are in, and this would be a good time to do so from the perspective of Mayor Trukhanov and those around him.

However, the statement of Mr Lysak, the Mayor’s lawyer, was swiftly rebuffed by several of the organisations named.

Firstly the active military units, the 79th Brigade, the Command of the Naval Forces, and the paratroopers jointly denied the laywer’s claims regarding their support for Mayor Trukhanov.  “We were approached from the mayoralty with a request to give a document stating how the city has helped the fleet. We have indicated these points. Of the court itself, we did not ask for anything.”  

Quite rightly too.  A serving military, as an institution, has no place in publicly backing a local politician, ergo a diplomatic distancing from the words of Mr Lysak on behalf of the Mayor was indeed appropriate – and necessary.

That said, Brigade Commander Colonel Valery Kurach of the 79th did support the Mayor in a letter to the court – ergo it is a matter of interpretation as to whether it be a letter of personal support, or that officially of the 79th Brigade.  Perhaps the Ministry of Defence will make that distinction clear in the public realm at some point?

Somewhat less diplomatic was the abrupt and forthright denial of such support by Sergei Kostin of the well known “Road to Home” organisation – “Odessa Charitable Foundation “Road to Home” for 20 years is the leader in social services in Odessa; helping children and adults who are in difficult life circumstances. The “Road to Home” Foundation has always been out of politics, and this position has been voiced many times. For some reason, the “Road to the Home” Foundation was included in the list of organizations that signed the document expressing support for the current city head of Odessa. We want to refute this information – the Road to Home Foundation did not sign this document, if it exists at all. This is the official position of our organization. We provide support and help those who need it, but do not play political games.”

How such a simple lie by the Mayor’s lawyer can immediately undermine support that may otherwise be there is self-evident.

The case to remove the Mayor from his office during the on-going due process that surrounds him, returns to the courtroom on 27th February – where hopefully the Mayor’s lawyer will not fluff his lines again from a client’s perspective.


When you find yourself agreeing with specific populist electioneering outcomes

February 21, 2018

The blog has long loath populist politics.  It is a recurring matter of record.  Further it cares little for party politics, for solid and sound policy and effective implementation thereof is what matters from whichever political party holds office at any given time.

While the stars are aligning for Irena Lutsenko within the presidential party – which can be defined as the movement of Solidarity/Block Poroshenko politicians toward her centre of gravity and away from that of Ihor Kononenko (who appears now tasked with “business development” within the innermost presidential conclave), political fortune somewhat wanes for her husband, Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko – for reasons some of which can be laid squarely at his own door.

Oh Fortuna!

Nevertheless, Yuri Lutsenko on 21st February made what is clearly an election orientated populist announcement,  which despite its manipulative and belated political raison d’être nevertheless has some merit regarding the rule of law.

In short, Mr Lutsenko has muted the idea that the Prosecutor’s Office will instigate changes to the law, to be put before the Verkhovna Rada, that convictions of politicians and civil servants for corruption should carry a minimum of 1 year in custody, and also that once provided with official notification of suspicion, that said officials should automatically be suspended from their roles as due process continues.

Mr Lutsenko also bemoaned the fact that less than 10% of successful convictions within this category have resulted in any meaningful sentencing.

If only judicial reform had actually been judicial reform with integrity, rather than a veneer of restructuring and process overhaul that has clearly retained a place for political influence – albeit via a different route.

Whilst always wary of statutorily obliging judges when it comes to sentencing, rather than providing sentencing guidelines, clearly there needs to be a very real deterrent in the event of a successful prosecution – rather than a padded landing.

A reader will not be indifferent to the current weak grasp upon the rule of law in Ukraine – and neither were the legislators when corruption related statute was passed.  Neither were they unaware of the corrupt judicial system past and present.  Ergo Prosecutor General Lutsenko is surely not surprised that only 10% of successful corruption related prosecutions have resulted it anything close to meaningful sentences – and neither is anybody else.

Thus, if Articles 210, 354, 364, 365-2, 368, 368-2, 368-368-4, and 369 of the relevant existing statute require amendment to insert a mandatory minimum 1 year prison sentence and automatic suspension from office whilst due process slowly progresses, that deficiency has deliberately been left unaddressed since the relevant statute became law.

After all, even with a mandatory minimum 1 year sentence for corruption set in statute, thus binding the judiciary to some extent, there must first be a guilty verdict passed down.

How swiftly these proposed amendments make it through the Verkhovna Rada committees and voting chamber will also probably be subject to a politically expedient timetable rather than a legislative timetable for the purposes of electoral impact.

So, despite recognising the Prosecutor General’s statement as populist electoral politics, perhaps despite the allergic reaction it causes, the outcome if passed and rigorously implemented will be worth the populist rash it causes.


Delete “ATO” and insert “Temporarily occupied territories”

February 20, 2018

On 18th January an entry appeared following 280 Verkhovna Rada deputies voting through the final reading of the “reintegration law” relating to the occupied Donbas.

The 8th February witnessed the Verkhovna Rada Speaker sign the law and send it onward for Presidential signature.

On 20th February President Poroshenko signed the law – which is a framework law requiring a lot of subsequent subservient legislation and/or Presidential Decrees (almost exclusively the later to avoid dalliance within the parliament no doubt).

It now remains to be seen what, and by when, will be forthcoming to put meat on the framework bones.

The 1st April is the date set by President Poroshenko for submission of that which would fill out the framework law into functioning and effectively implemented structures and processes – and hopefully what is produced will not be indicative of April Fools Day.

Despite the realities on the ground, as yet just what geographical area is precisely recognised as “occupied territories” has yet to be determined for the purposes of the legislation.  Borders and a list of populated areas within the temporarily occupied territories of the Donbas will be determined by the President of Ukraine on the proposal of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine – Stepan Poltorak, in turn upon the basis of proposals of the General Staff of the Supreme Armed Forces – Viktor Muzenko.

When that area has been formally identified/codified, the strategic leadership of the forces and assets that are involved in insuring national security and defense measures, will be carried out by the General Staff and the leadership directly in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions by the Commander of the United Forces.

The Commander of the United Forces is yet to be identified (at least publicly), let alone appointed by President Poroshenko upon the formal recommendation of the Chief of the General Staff.  It will be interesting to see who gets the nomination – and by extension what that appointment will tell an informed reader.

The candidate once nominated (and no doubt the entire NSDC rather than simply Messrs Muzenko and Poltorak will be involved in that selection process)  as the Commander of the United Forces will exercise their power via the Joint Operational Headquarters of the Armed Forces, which doesn’t really exist in any meaningful and legal sense yet either.

Perhaps less urgent, yet still subject to the April Fools Day deadline set by President Poroshenko, is an obligation by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence to have a plan for the events when Russia effectively leaves the temporarily occupied territories – if and when that happens.

In the war of exhaustion that is the occupied Donbas, to be blunt there are few public signs that The Kremlin are going to exhaust themselves and still expect a resolution upon “Kremlin terms” – or at least to be seen to be upon “Kremlin terms”.  For all the talk of peacekeepers, and the tentative political preparations for such an event, when thinking about any UN peacekeeping mission it is necessary to remember who sits within the UNSC with powers of veto.

Whatever the case, a reader may hope that a sensible, achievable yet sufficiently flexible plan, and a contingency plan, are forthcoming – but as any such plan(s) are unlikely to be executed in the immediate future, that then necessitates the requirement of review on a fairly frequent basis lest the situation on the ground change (somehow) and the plan(s) be found unfit for purpose when they are required to function swiftly and efficiently.

Nevertheless, despite a particularly unfortunate choice of date by President Poroshenko, by or upon 1st April it is perhaps likely a reader may see the first meat about to be put upon the framework bones of the occupied Donbas “reintegration” law.


Trukhanov – Winners and Losers

February 17, 2018

Following the detention and subsequent release of Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov a few days ago, it is perhaps worth pondering the winners and losers as events have unfolded.

(Unsurprisingly Mayor Trukhanov features quite often in blog entries – a reader is encouraged to put “Trukhanov” into the search facility of the blog for a broader caricature of the Mayor.  Some names, companies, associations and nefarious scams are outlined – although by no means all.  The blog is free after all and a comprehensive report would not come gratis.)

Mayor Turkhanov was released by the Ukrainian courts under the personal guarantee of Odessa MP Dmitry Golubov (perhaps better known as the Darth Vader political entity in Odessa).  Mr Golubov is better known outside of Ukraine as being once wanted by the FBI for allegedly being a major player within the Cardplanet fraud scheme of the mid-2000’s.  (He also owns $10’s of millions in Bitcoin among other assets.)

Thus Mayor Trukhanov was released without any financial obligations (bail), without tags/ankle bracelets, nor passport surrender (despite extremely strong rumour he holds not only a Ukrainian passport but also Greek and Russian), or any suspension from his place of work and/or from his role as Mayor of Odessa.  (This after being absent abroad from his place of work from 26th December 2017 until a return to City Hall the day after his court release on 16th February 2018.)

It should be noted that Mayor Trukhanov, whilst clearly staying abroad until it became known what NABU would do and when regarding their investigation into allegations of criminality involving himself, that upon the official serving of suspicion regarding said criminality at the Mayor’s office and his home in Arcadia, the Mayor promptly returned to Ukraine the following day to confront the allegations.

A reader will rightly assume that once formal suspicion was announced, sufficient behind the curtain negotiations arrived at an outcome whereby Mayor Trukhanov would not remain in prison, nor be forced (at least immediately) to resign.  Hence his “defiant” return.

So, as matters stand at the time of writing, who are the winners and losers from a case perhaps of equal if not more public awareness (considering Mayor Trukhanov’s decades long involvement in organised criminality) as that of Roman Nasirov?

The Bankova have long sought to renegotiate their “understanding” with Mayor Turkhanov since their initial deal was struck in 2014/15 with the Mayor.  Whatever concerns it had over the political and social direction of Odessa at that time have rightly passed.  “Separatism” there will not be.  There is now no longer a need to allow Mayor Trukhanov a free reign to plunder Odessa in order to keep the Mayor’s own obvious (looking at his media outlets in 2014) bias toward Russia.  Thus a new deal has long been sought once that the loyalty of Odessa to Ukraine was understood.

(To be blunt such concerns clearly displayed a lack of regional awareness by the Bankova – once Crimea was placed under sanctions there was simply no way a mercantile and cosmopolitan Odessa would want to become subjected to the same sanctions – and the mercantile nature of the city, by default, then placed its loyalties with Kyiv.)

Now with official criminal investigations opened against Mayor Trukhanov, The Bankova is most certainly in the strongest position when negotiating with Mayor Trukhanov – and the elections for Odessa Mayor occur in 2019 (as do that of President and Verkhovna Rada).  The Bankova can now expedite or slow the judicial process surrounding the criminal case (perhaps cases) involving the Mayor – whilst also leaving the door open for him to “escape” and be tried in absentia by mutual understanding if desirable.

It remains to be seen whether The Bankova will find and back another candidate for mayor of Odessa, or will stick with Mr Trukhanov.  If it sticks with him, it also remains to be seen whether he will become something of a “hollow Mayor”/figurehead, while others loyal to The Bankova actually run the city.

Eyes therefore should be firmly fixed upon those within Odessa City Hall who are loyal to Alexei Goncharenko – the most influential Odessa MP within the Presidential party.

Also somewhat beholding to Alexie Goncharenko is Dmitry Golubov, the MP from Odessa under whose guarantee Mayor Trukhanov was released.  The Goncharenko-Golubov relationship goes back to at least 2009 when among other things, the Darth Vader caricature initially used by Mr Goncharenko for civil activism/local political activism (preserving his anonymity) was retired – and then sometime later passed to Mr Golubov to further his own political ambitions.  Further it was Mr Goncharenko that included Mr Golubov within the Poroshenko party candidates and thus has a significant hand in his election to the Verkhovna Rada (and the immunity that goes with it).

Ergo, Mayor Turkhanov’s current freedom is due to the personal guarantee of an ally of Mr Goncharenko.  Undoubtedly one word from Mr Goncharenko and that guarantee would be withdrawn (albeit a number of ex-Regions MPs from Odessa would probably then fill the void as they have for others from Odessa City Hall subjected to formal investigation by NABU).  Nevertheless the Goncharenko loyal City Hall deputies will now have additional weight within City Hall – perhaps the most powerful being the Speaker, Alexie Potapsky.

It probably follows that others in the Oblast Rada also loyal to Mr Goncherenko, the most powerful being the Chairman Anatoli Urbansky, will also suffer less obstruction by City Hall too.

That said, if Mayor Trukhanov can retain the organised criminal support of long-held partners Messrs Zhukov and (Lampochka) Gallanternik, there is perhaps a question over just how hard Mr Goncharenko will press Mayor Trukhanov, and/or decide to ally with competing criminality – the likes Kivan (and/or others) in any “hostile takeover”.

Thus “off market” sales of the London-Odessa mafia assets may provide a clue as to the long term future of Mayor Trukhanov – as will any sudden “friendly” moves toward Alexie Goncharenko from such people.

Although it is a matter of perception, both NABU, the SAP and “external supporters of Ukraine” can point to the release of Mayor Trukhanov without even a “financial guarantee”/bail, let alone restrictions of movement, as yet further evidence of a definite need for a dedicated anti-corruption court.  After all, a Mayor associated with and involved in organised criminality involving $ billions since 1991/2 to the current day, who has been absent his place of work since 26th December 2017, and  who is strongly rumoured to hold passports of 3 nations, has been simply released upon the personal guarantee of a MP from Odessa who himself was once wanted by the FBI for systematic and serious crime himself.

Mayor Trukhanov (and Messrs Zhukov and Galanternik) benefit from his remaining free and in office – at least for now.  Time for decisions, Bankova negotiations, and contingencies is therefore provided.  The Mayor remains Mayor and at work.  He may ultimately remain The Bankova “chosen man” for the 2019 elections – or not – but control over the Odessa City administrative resources (and majority of local media) during electioneering for the entirety of 2019 will be essential and is thus The Bankova priority.

The current outcome would appear to have strengthened The Bankova, Alexie Goncharenko (within Odessa and within the Poroshenko machinery), the NABU and SAP case that an anti-corruption court is vital to avoid decisions similar to that which set Mayor Trukhanov free (with absolutely no restrictions upon his liberty), and yet also kept Mayor Trukhanov not only free (and with absolutely no restrictions upon his liberty) but also remaining in post – which is of benefit to those nefarious circles close to the Mayor both locally and also internationally.

Ergo, so far no serious loser – perhaps beyond an increase in the the cost of doing (further) business under any new Bankova terms for those around Mayor Trukhanov.

However, the Trukhanov blood has long been in the organised crime water after the reported death of Alexander “Angel” Angert in the summer of 2017 – an event preceded by the December 2016/January 2017 apparent disagreement between “Angel” Angert (to whom Mr Trukhanov has always been loyal – as he is to Leonid Minin), and presidential best friend Igor Kononenko, over the Odessa CHP plant.  The “disagreement” between Angert and Kononenko resulted in Mr Kononenko throwing his own nefarious spanner into the criminal works of Mr Angert in December 2016 – resulting in the collapse of the Angert CHP scam.  Subsequently a mysterious mercury poisoning of Mr Kononenko in January 2017 occurred laying him low for almost 6 months.  No doubt some within The Bankova will have inferred some connection – which will not have helped the Trukhanov political blood loss within the Bankova either.

In short both organised crime and political winds blew ill for Mayor Trukhanov with his perceived weakening at the purported death of Mr Angert – particularly so when Messrs Zukhov and Galanternik are “partners in organised crime” rather than loyal friends as Messrs Angert and Minin are.

All that said however, it may ultimately prove to be the case that the only loss to anybody involved will be relating to the “new terms” dictated to Mayor Trukhanov (and those within his orbit) by The Bankova – should the current Bankova survive the 2019 elections.

If not, and Yulia Tymoshenko take over then clearly there will be no difficulty in striking a grubby and dirty deal with her.

Should Mr Vakarchuk decided to run and won, then chaos would ensue should he not gain control over the Verkhovna Rada – and Mayor Trukhanov did very well out of the chaos of the 1990s.  The question would be whether he remains strong enough to see off all pretenders to the organised crime throne in Odessa.

Nevertheless, in the current circumstances, at the time of writing, there appears to be no significant losses thus far – and if (as expected) the case drags on and on – perhaps all involved will actually be able to claim they won?

Perhaps the only loser – as usual – will prove the be the rule of law.



Odessa Mayor Trukhanov detained in Kyiv by NABU

February 14, 2018

Only a few days ago an entry appeared relating to preparations for the return of Odessa Mayor Turkhanov from an extended holiday/leave of absence since 26th December 2017.

This until his detention in Kyiv returning on a flight to Kyiv from Warsaw on 14th February 2018 – albeit still absent from his place of work in Odessa.

The aforementioned link contains several other links – all worthy of a read for a reasonable understanding of the criminal scams and schemes – notwithstanding personalities – within and without City Hall.

Absent only from those links above and within the above is the fact that an Odessa Oblast Deputy is also under NABU investigation for trying to bribe a NABU employee with $500,000 to release frozen accounts holding the purported proceeds of crime.  Clearly some involved simply do not know when to stop digging the hole they are in.

The 13th February witnessed NABU employees deliver notices of criminal suspicion to several City Hall employees surrounding the Mayor and allegedly involved in the most brazen of scams.  Aside from the place of work and residence of Mayor Trukhanov, official suspicion notices were delivered to the place of work and home addresses of Messrs Volgueman, Spektor and Shkrybai (and one other unknown).

Unsurprisingly all the named individuals are currently outside Ukraine and have been for about as long as the now detained Mayor.

It is not clear whether suspicions were served on anybody from the private company involved in the scam – albeit that company and the orbit individual within which that company falls are named in the aforementioned links.

As the first link makes clear, it remains to be seen just how easily any evidence will stick to Mayor Trukhanov.

The most direct evidence relates to a nefarious scam surrounding Odessa Airport, documents of which carry the signature of Mayor Trukhanov – a schoolboy error.  The “headline investigation” into the most blatant of criminal conspiracies and fraud surrounding the sale and repurchase of a “new City Hall” building will require much more investigative finesse to directly and unambiguously tie Mayor Trukhanov to those (and other road tender, back door privatisation of City buildings outside the required Prozorro procurement process etc., etc) criminal events.

As stated do click upon all the links within the first link for a better understanding – not that the entire scope of all City Hall nefariousness relating to criminal scams and schemes are covered.  A reader is advised to employ the search engine of the blog in pursuit of that cause.

No doubt any prosecution and judicial process will take a long time – unless The Bankova want to expedite matters.  With elections for the Odessa Mayor due in 2019 (no differently to those of president and Verkhovna Rada) it is a political judgment call.

However be Mayor Trukhanov “encouraged to resign” or “allowed to fight on” while without court conviction (see the never ending criminal court case against Mayor Gennady Kernes in Kharkiv), The Bankova will have to identify a suitable candidate to (tacitly yet probably less than subtely) back as a replacement when elections arrive.

Odessa is a city that The Bankova will unquestionably want direct control over via indirect methods behind the curtain – whether that control be offered voluntarily or gained via coercion.

Thus, there are two questions to answer (or perhaps three if a reader considers providing an opportunity for Mayor Trukhanov to conveniently escape and be tried in absentia (he is strongly rumoured to hold both Russian and Greek passports too) – or not).  The first question is what will stick by way of evidence?  The second question is whether Mayor Trukhanov will resign – or not.

Those pages of local (and nefarious) colour have yet to be written.

Perhaps an watchful eye upon the sale or retention of Odessa assets ($ hundreds of millions in asset worth) by criminal partners of the Mayor – Vladimir (Lampochka) Galanternik, Alexandr Zhukov et al – may provide a clue.  The quiet withdrawal of the London based organised criminality from Odessa may be a solid indication of Mayor Trukhanov’s future.

Interesting times!


From the Saakashvili to the mundane

February 12, 2018

The circus surrounding Misha Saakshvili is on to another act.

It appears that upon 12th February he was arrested in a Georgian restaurant in Kyiv and spirited away by uniformed personnel – whereabouts unknown at the time of writing.

It may be an arrest relating to the “Kurchenko conspiracy” or it may be an arrest relating to Georgian extradition requests, or having failed in his appeals within the Ukrainian court system, Mr Saakashvili may be being deported elsewhere – his last port of entry or to where he is otherwise lawfully entitled to be.

At the time of writing rumour (be it informed or otherwise) suggests it was the State Border Service that arrested Mr Saakashvili and thus, extradition or deportation would be far more likely than any “Kurchenko conspiracy” related activity within Ukraine.

Despite the Georgian extradition request, rumour has it (be it informed or otherwise) that Mr Saakashvili heads either for Poland – the nation from whence he illegally crossed into Ukraine some months ago, or to The Netherlands, a nation for which he has a Visa and where his wife has citizenship.

No doubt this act will soon have an end when Misha Saakashvili appears before a breathless press conference.  To be sure, it will probably not be the last act either.  The show must go on!

However, more mundane is the blog “Inbox” which regularly fills with events, information and propaganda that floats around Brussels from legitimate, questionable and simply fraudulent individuals and entities relating to matters Ukraine.

Some material battering against the European firewalls, and trash and spam folders is nothing more than blatant disinformation attempts clogging up the Inboxes of European politicians and NGO leaders.  Others are a little more sophisticated.  Yet others are very well produced.  All of course, entirely unsolicited.  That said, public figure, public figure’s Inbox.

Casting no aspersions upon the veracity of this fairly well produced document relating to alleged corruption within the Ukrainian defence sector and the Atek Factory in Kyiv, nor besmerching upon the integrity of the purported sender, former Ukrainian MP, Mr Roman Zvarych (who is not without questionable historical pecuniary claims), a reader is left to decide and/or investigate for themselves as to the legitimacy of the claims made.  (Regardless of whether the claims have any foundation, it is perhaps worth a reader’s time to read one of the better produced unsolicited “Inbox fillers” that clog up email addresses throughout Brussels (and no doubt beyond) relating to Ukraine.  Indeed it found its way to the blog Inbox as so much similar material does.

To be blunt just how many such Ukraine related emails are read by the addressees it is difficult to know.

How many addressees would have time to go through the 15 pages (in this case) – even relating to a sensitive subject such as alleged corruption within the Ukrainian defence industry.

For those who do read it, how many have the time to investigate the contents and the sender?

Anybody who has dealt with politicians know they rarely have time to read and inwardly digest what their own staffers deliver, let alone unsolicited emails.  Most staffer support comes via a few bullet points rapacious with accuracy and brevity (and no irrelevancies) – and a large file of supporting material, oft never read and destined only to gather dust, is dutifully created just in case there be interest and further reading required by “the Boss”.  (Woe to the staffer that does not have the accompanying detailed file prepared “just in case”).

The constant flow of such emails is of course anticipated and mundane, perhaps unlike the ad hoc spontaneous or “spontaneous” Saakashvili circus.  The question for the reader is whether the Saakashvili circus after so many laps around the ring is becoming equally mundane in the eyes of Brussels.

Another question is how many nation’s are hoping Misha does not appear at their airport?

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