For those who find local matters in Odessa boring stop reading – unless you have an interest in organsied crime, the Odessa mafia and all that – in which case you may want to continue reading.
For better or for worse, the Odessa Mafia has something of a particularly infamous reputation – even in Moscow and St Petersburg who have their own infamous organised criminality.
The “Don” as far as Odessa is concerned was, and probably still is, a man called Alexander Angert – know as “Angel”.
His name is regularly mentioned by former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko in particular, whenever something serious and illegal occurs in Odessa – the events of 2nd May for example, despite Mr Angert being a resident of London since the early 2000’s, and remains so it is believed. So much so that on-lookers may think there is something personal between them – perhaps there is – but assuredly Mr Angert is not behind every nefarious incident in Odessa, whether he remains a resident of London or not.
One of the things it is necessary to understand is that the Odessa mafia does not work like a scene from the Godfather with men sat around in kitchens plotting against other mafia clans. The Odessa mafia is much more fluid than lines of dedicated nefarious soldiers sitting around awaiting orders. Most have their own business interests and rarely gather together to agree or plot the future unless there is an absolute need.
The last inter-mafia killing I recall was at the beginning of last month where a Georgian “thief in law” was shot dead in an Odessan restaurant on Ilfa and Petrova.
But what has this, and in particular Mr Angert, got to do with city hall?
The answer is the new Mayor, Gennady Truhanov, previously described in this link as a Dickensian “Bill Sikes” character.
Now the elections are over, it is perhaps time to explain the connection between Mr Truhanov and Mr Angert.
Way back in the very bloody 1990’s that characterised Odessa, the two created a security firm providing “services” to the major businesses in Odessa. Mr Angert was Vice President of this company.
Ever since that date, Messrs Truhanov and Angert have retained their relationship – with fingers in many pies. Mr Truhanov being well placed within Odessa Port for example. Only recently Mr Truhanov stated:
“I have not studied his biography , his past , I did not take a certificate from the district department of his criminal record. I did not care about people’s past. He worked openly, he was not hounded by the authorities. In a word, a decent, normal person. Since then, (1990’s ed) we have a relationship. He’s a free man, and I do not attach any significance to talk about his criminal past.”
This of course now raises the spectre of a return to rampant organised criminality when Odessa now has a Mayor who attaches no importance to the criminality of those he and his administration will interact with.
Indeed Mr Anhert owns a company (well more than one) called “Рост” – or “Growth” in English. It is fronted by a Russian named Alexander Zhukov who lobbies Odessa City Hall on its behalf.
Mayor Truhanov has few words to say about “Рост” – “I have no relationship with this company , even though I know it well.”
The Serious and Organised Crime attachés at embassies in Kyiv and Consulates in Odessa hopefully are already very aware of Mr Truhanov, his history and his associations – as they should be Mr Angert.
If not, as this blog is read in many an embassy in Kyiv – they are now.
Looking forward, it seems likely that ” Рост “, the entities of Igor Markov and others on good terms with Mayor Truhanov, are likely to do very, very well over the next 5 years. That leads to the question relating to the future of Odessa, and just how closely the central government will monitor and “guide” the new Mayor of Odessa relating what seems certain to see an increase in nefarious and organised criminality.
Finding a regional governor with a serious degree of integrity will be required to keep Mayor Tryhanov and associates within certain acceptable parameters, would be a start – and finding one of those is a major task in and of itself.
— Nikolai Holmov (@OdessaBlogger) May 27, 2014
I tweeted last week, perhaps the first petition newly invested President Poroshenko will receive will be one from Odessa relating to Mayor Truhanov.
In the meantime, some familiar old faces seem likely to be reappearing within the Odessa “business” scene.