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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.

 

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