Archive for the ‘Ukraine’ Category

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The resurrection of the late and lamented Dmitry Malinovsky

October 17, 2018

The late and lamented Dmitry Malinovsky has been resurrected – or more accurately found living in a castle he had bought in Dijon, France – together with a classic Rolls Royce and a few Salvador Dali paintings.

He was promptly arrested during a joint Europol, Franco-Ukrainian investigation.  Ukraine has already requested his extradition.

Mr Malinovsky is accused of stealing Euro 12 million (or so) when he worked at the Odessa Port Side plant and then subsequently fraudulently creating his own death bureaucratically – thus disappearing to Dijon, France in 2014/15 ne’er to be seen again (as Dmitry Malinovsky, citizen of Ukraine).

Naturally the crime and particularly the efforts to fake his death on paper have caused some headlines – especially when caught in a French castle he’d bought with stolen funds.

But when, why, how and in what circumstances – and why bother to fake a death on paper when so many in Ukraine steal far more and do not go to such bureaucratic lengths as faking their own death?

Euro 12 million is, after all, small beans in comparison to many other thefts of funds in Ukraine by officials in office.

Perhaps an empirical look at the circumstances and vested interests would shed some light?

A reader need return to late 2014/early 2015 when Mr Malionvsky is suspected of his theft.  Odessa is witnessing the swapping of leadership of institutions and SOEs, not for the sake of combating corruption, but for the sake of redirecting corrupt money flows.  Organised criminality has long withstood the changing of political power in Odessa, but this time things are a little more fluid in certain quarters.  The Rubicon of Ukrainian blood has been spilled during the Revolution of Dignity.  All previously existing agreements with Tatar criminal gangs and Crimean authorities are off due to annexation by Russia and the Russian mob slowly moving in.  The additional attention of dealing with Crimea is not welcomed.  De facto, organised crime in Odessa becomes “patriotic” as a result.

Outside, or on the periphery of organised criminality, opportunities arise for those that know how things work during this period of flux.

At this time (and currently) Odessa Port Side is a State Owned Company that has long been scheduled for privatisation and that still has not been privatised.  In is in huge debt – with a considerable amount (over $200 million) owing to Dmitry Firtash, oligarch in exile in Vienna.

Like most SOE, there are also small shareholders of minority stakes.

There is also a long list of creditors beyond Dmitry Firtash, including OdessaEnergo.

Indeed OdessaEnergo was quite content to allow Odessa Port Side to run up huge debts – the plan being to make OPS bankrupt and seize it as an asset to repay the debt.  Among those behind OdessaEnergo were Alexander (Angel) Angert, Odessa’s most influential organised criminal (associated with Mayor Trukhanov, Leonid Minin, Alexander Zhukov, Alexander Galanternik etc, etc) and also Alexander Babkov, a Russian “businessman” currently under sanctions and the driving force behind VS Group (And VS Energy as a result).  There is also a certain Mr Granovsky, close to President Poroshenko, with “fertilizer interests”

Throw into the mix also the Surkis brothers and behind them Igor Kononenko who seemed determined to prevent the OdessaEnergo plan of claiming Odessa Port Side as payment for accumulated debts via the corrupt courts of Odessa.

In short organised criminality was strong if also in flux, political interest was that of assuming control of corrupt cash flows, the oligarchy and criminal hierarchy were fighting for the future of Odessa Port Side – and so opportunity arises for those with a one-off plan for personal enrichment as all eyes are elsewhere and looking at a bigger picture.

It would appear that Mr Malinovsky took the opportunity to redirect a pre-payment for fertilizer to the tune of Euro 12 million (or so) and redirected it to an offshore.  With or without any assistance or encouragement from those listed above (or others unlisted) is currently a matter of speculation.   Also a matter for speculation is quite whose Euro 12 million pre-payment it was.

Whether it was with tacit approval of any one of the above, it was clearly not done with the approval of all as they were engaged in a battle for control – and who was temporarily holding power over Odessa Port Side at the time is also subjective in judgement.

Whatever the case, the accusation that this theft is from “State Funds” is somewhat legalistic in its nature, for assuredly that Euro 12 million would not have been delivered to “State Funds” but rather redirected elsewhere anyway.

Nevertheless, turning over that stone and peering at what is underneath is unlikely to occur in any subsequent court hearing.  Officially the theft is from OPS and thus “the State”.  Assuredly that is all that will be declared in open court.

A reader therefore might (perhaps rightly) assume that the bureaucratic desire (and accomplishment) of Mr Mlinovsky to fake his own death and produce fraudulent death certificates etc., was not to escape Ukrainian justice – but rather to escape the justice of any number of those named above (or perhaps omitted but with an equal reputation for “robust business”).

Another question is why Mr Malinovsky appeared upon the Europol, Franco-Ukraine radar now?

Odessa Port Side is up for privatisation still.  Mayor Trukhanov at the end of August 2018 appointed Ivan Donchenko in charge of its privatisation locally.  It was something of a surprise (cyncism) that the previous appointee resigned unexpectedly.

Mr Donchenko is a share holder in the minority company within Odessa Port Side.  He is also a small share holder in OdessaEnergo (and thus indirectly associated with VS Energy, VS Group and the sanctioned Russian “businessman” Alexander Babkov) who are hotly tipped to actually purchase Odessa Port Side this time.  Clearly there is no small amount of vested interest at play – and certainly a tacitly turned blind eye by a State wanting to get this loss making asset off of the books.

And it is “of the books” that perhaps sealed the fate, the identification and location of Mr Malinovsky, for there are few able to fake their death without somebody knowing they are still alive and Odessa is a small place the higher up the greasy and nefarious pole an individual climbs.

It was perhaps decided that for the sake of “the books” or a new owner with a penchant for French castle’s in lieu, that Mr Malinvsky was identified to law enforcement.

That said, perhaps the Europol flags were simply raised via standard procedures and protocols – but if so, Euro 12 million is a fairly low bar considering that scale of corruption.

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General Poltorak quits the military to remain Defence Minister

October 13, 2018

As highlighted long ago, General Stepan Poltorak, the current Minister of Defence since the adoption of Law 8068 “On National Security” was faced with the decision to remain in the military and vacate his position of Defence Minister by 1st January 2019, or to leave the military in order to retain his position as Defence Minister.

“In effect, the current Defense Minister, General Stepan Poltorak, will be obliged to vacate the post he has held since October 14th 2014, or to retain it, he will be obliged to leave the military.

Article 16 is devoted to the restructuring of the General Staff and the armed forces.  The positions of Chief of the General Staff and Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are both filled by General Viktor Muzhenko.  The new statute when in force requires two separate individuals to hold the two posts.”

It appears that after 35 years of military service General Poltorak has decided to remain in politics and retain the position of Defence Minister.  He has thus, with effect of 13th October, left the Ukrainian military with immediate effect.

“Stepan Timofeevich Poltorak filed an appropriate report and I, frankly, with a very heavy heart, accepted the report about the dismissal of Ukrainian Army General Poltorak Stepan Timofeyevich from military service.  I appreciate the contribution of Stepan Poltorak to the revival of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and before that to the restoration and establishment of the National Guard of Ukraine, I decided that he should continue to lead the defense department as a civilian minister.” – President Poroshenko

Quite how long Gen (now Retired)/Mr Poltorak will remain as Defence Minister (and by default in politics) remains to be seen – for his position is quite probably directly associated with how President Poroshenko fairs in his re-election campaign.

No doubt should President Poroshenko manage to get re-elected then Mr Poltorak will soldier on (now metaphorically) and maintain his position as Defence Minister.  It seems unlikely that he could or indeed would want to continue under a different president – particularly under certain other candidates.

T’will be interesting to see whether the two Deputy Defence Ministers will change for they too must become and remain civilians with effect from 1st January 2019 per statute.

It must have been a difficult decision for Gen (now Retired)/Mr Poltorak as his future is now as uncertain as that of President Poroshenko in Ukrainian politics – and it is always difficult to leave an institution that requires a certain commitment and mentally.

In leaving the military, Mr Poltorak thanked the soldiers, sergeants, officers and generals with whom he served. “Especially those with whom I served the last four years, because these were the most difficult years in the life of the state and my life.”

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A play within a play (or diplomatic gamesmanship) NATO-Ukraine & the SBU

October 11, 2018

It’s been a while since there was a public exhibition of diplomatic gamesmanship between the current Ukrainian leadership and the more solid of Ukraine’s external supporters.

Another play within a play – such as those within The Bard’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Hamlet, or Love’s Labours Lost.

The current issue of contention is the rehashing of the laws surrounding the SBU and its parameters/terms of reference.

A public game of political and diplomatic gamesmanship is now being played.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the SBU, its activities and the laws and regulations outlining the agency’s scope is long overdue.  The SBU gets far too involved in acts that the police should be dealing with on a daily basis.  In some arenas it is far too publicly active, and generally there is a need for more macro and less micro involvement across many domestic issues.

Ukraine has long promised to address this particular issue.  All year President Poroshenko has stated that the revamp of the agency and the laws that proscribe its responsibilities will be overhauled as a matter of priority.

However making good on such promises does not exist in a vacuum – regardless of official electioneering some months away from starting, unofficially it has long been going on.  As the ever-turning calendar brings the election ever closer, so do opportunities to revamp the SBU and associated legislation prior to those elections diminish.

Depending upon the outcome of the elections, the chances of accomplishing this longstanding obligation by Ukraine, are also far from uncertain.  Indeed, this is not lost on any interested party (which includes the SBU and its own vested interests, powers and budget).

On 10th October, the NATO Deputy Head in Ukraine stated: “It is not expedient for Ukraine to postpone the reform of the Security Service of Ukraine, as this could undermine the trust of its allies.  

The reform of the Security Service of Ukraine was emphasized as a key priority, both in the comprehensive package of assistance to Ukraine, which was agreed at the NATO Warsaw Summit in 2016, and in the annual national program of Ukraine.

So, a blunt message with “undermined trust” at its core to President Poroshenko that NATO (and allies) are not going to be seen to tacitly (as it can never officially) support his reelection/release communiques inferring support if he doesn’t force this through the Verkhovna Rada before the year end?

Is it a reluctant recognition that there is no guarantee that whoever wins the March presidential election may have trouble controlling the current sitting Verkhovna Rada until those elections in October 2019 – and possibly beyond?  A matter of forcing it through now (or perhaps never)?

For sure Yulia Tymoshenko’s voting history within the Verkhovna Rada is not particularly impressive when it comes to laws that reform the system – in fact for a self-proclaimed reformer it is quite dismal, as all major external supporters of Ukraine will be very aware.

So is President Poroshenko presenting himself as an “if not me, then who?” to Ukraine’s supporters?  At the time of writing that is a particularly prickly question given the declared runners thus far.  Being President is not enough, there is a need to control the Verkhovna Rada to get things done (be they good, bad or indifferent).

If so does he feel he has the political capital to force it through the Verkhovna Rada at a time most politically expedient for his reelection – and reap the publicly expressed nods of approval at the most appropriate electioneering hour?

Will there be such an hour of political expedience before the elections when controlling the SBU provides him with a powerful tool during the electioneering process?

Can he so misjudge matters that he will have lost sufficient political power that when or if he does try it will be too late?

Can it be timed, as the anti-corruption court and Bureau of Special Investigations have been, that any such changes made would prove to be impotent until after the elections?  If so would the external supporters of Ukraine accept such an outcome – all interests met, but not with politically expedient immediate effect?

If a reader were faced with such a dilemma, what to do?  And when?  And how will it affect the bigger plot in the bigger play?

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Deactivating activists – Odessa

October 7, 2018

When the blog first began a decade or so ago, it fairly regularly decried and lamented the dysfunctional and often distinctly uncivil society that was Ukrainian civil society.  While that still remains here and there, The Rubicon was crossed with the “Revolution of Dignity/EuroMaidan” when blood was spilled.

The wise and sage among civil society immediately recognised that the election of President Poroshenko was not about to swiftly bring a “new Ukraine”.  A battle remained to be joined to keep on occasion glacial movement toward a “new Ukraine”, for too many of the “old guard” remained in positions of power.  Nevertheless, Petro Poroshenko was acknowledged as the least worst option.

Perhaps President Poroshenko still is the least worst option among those who have declared their intentions to run for president in March 2019.  When a full list of runner and riders is known then that will become clearer – even if a subjective assessment.

However, there are also the activists – some of which are a plus for a civil society and generally law-abiding and then there are the activists who would be turned away from any civil society organisation with a modicum of civility.  There are then the activists who hide behind the label to deflect from their more dubious and occasionally distinctly criminal undertakings.

Not long ago an entry appeared in which an incident surrounding another well-known local activist from Odessa was seriously injured.  A thorn in the side of the local city governance he most certainly is.  Those from the relevant organisation were swift to point the finger at Mayor Gennady Trukhanov and City Hall when it came to those ultimately responsible.

Despite the history of Mayor Trukhanov and several others within City Hall being littered with more than a fair share of grave and gratuitous violence (not to mention organized criminality) during their rise to prominence, these particular allegations are yet to be proven – or as is more often the case where successful prosecutions and incarceration are almost always lacking, circumstances are yet to sufficiently persuade a reader with a high level of confidence.  Time however will tell – as it invariably does.

However, the activists in Odessa do not only have City Hall to contend with.

No differently to Ukrainian civil society prior to the “Revolution of Dignity/EuroMaidan”, there is a good deal on incivility and distrust among some of the local activists – not to mention some dubious and nefarious activities.

Several incidents over the last week in Odessa seemed to highlight the point – so perhaps that point should be made.

Currently the key irritant among the activist community in Odessa is a group called “Self-Active Youth”/Самостійна активна молодь (SAM) who during the summer months engaged in a physical confrontation with an activist group called “Ukraine All” – an event that gathered few headlines and no prosecutions.

In September SAM rose to prominence for trashing a “lotto market” on Dobrolovsky Avenue – again with no prosecutions.

A reader will understand that many “lotto markets” are a euphemism for illegal gambling establishments. Activists have been known to target such unlawful establishments under the justification of police inaction – albeit there are rumours that such acts are for the raising of funds for the activists and the embryonic beginnings of a protection racket.

SAM appears not to be entirely of Odessa but rather Kyiv – which is perhaps why there is friction.  Alternatively it may be that SAM has a modus operandi that simply irritates the activists of Odessa.  Perhaps it is both.

Whatever the case, approximately 25 armed men arrived at a hotel in Odessa and were promptly searched by police – and released and sent home after the police had given “advice” to those concerned and seized whatever unlawfully held weaponry they could.  Rumour would have it that these men arrived at the behest of SAM.

Is a reader spotting pattern of escalation?

All of which leads a reader to the events in Odessa of the 6th October when there was a very ill-tempered meeting between activists of SAM and the Odessa AutoMaidan in a hotel room on Lustdorf.  The main protagonists/leaders involved were Messrs Yevgeny Rezushkin (Odessa AutoMaidan) and Ivanov.

This ill-tempered encounter then led to car chases and shooting, damaged vehicles and gunshot injuries to Mr Rezushkin.

As the winter draws in, darkness falls earlier and earlier, and bulky jackets, hats and scarves are commonplace to hide both weapons and identifying features, a reader may rightly ponder just how this current tiff will further escalate.

Naturally the police will be aware and cautious of public opinion/perception when dealing with activists (and rightly so), but how will the authorities deactivate activists if they are so far only prepared to detain, advise and release?

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Citizenship – Passports to the EU and beyond

October 5, 2018

After some consideration, the blog has decided to comment upon the sensitive issue of citizenship – for there are tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens with dual (and often more) citizenship despite what the Constitution of Ukraine may state.

Article 4.  There is unique citizenship in Ukraine.  The grounds for acquisition and stopping of citizenship is determined by law.”

Whatever those subordinate laws may state and provide by way of ambiguity and elasticity, they are entirely subservient to the Constitution per Article 8, paragraph 2 “Constitution of Ukraine has the greatest legal force.  Acts and other legal normative acts are passed on the basis of the Constitution of Ukraine and must answer to it.”

Nevertheless, there are tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens holding another citizenship – through grandfather rights, marriage, or simply by purchasing them.

It is a two way street, for there are foreigners that belatedly obtain Ukrainian citizenship without surrendering the citizenship under which they were born in life’s ovarian lottery, and there are Ukrainians who belatedly obtain a second citizenship via many lawful routes in the nations granting that citizenship – even if it is an illegal act in Ukraine.

The blog is aware of Ukrainian citizens holding 2, 3 and in one case 4 citizenships and passports.

To be blunt if any law is not going to be enforced (consistently/systematically or otherwise) then that specific law loses all meaning in society.  It will be forever ignored – and such is the fate of the Constitution relating to than ban on dual (or more) citizenship.

The Ukrainian state since independence and the adoption of the Constitution has tolerated societal disregard for this particular constitutional diktat.

Certain nations such as Russia and Hungary have actively sought to distribute their passports in Ukraine to Ukrainian citizens.  Only occasionally over the past 25 years or so has the Ukrainian state made half-hearted irked noises relating to these 2 nations in particular and their activities.

The 4th October 2018 expulsion/persona non grata of a Hungarian diplomat from the Berehove Consulate for the subversive issuing of Hungarian passports in Ukraine, followed by the inevitable reciprocity by Hungary and the persona non grata of Ukrainian diplomat Dmitry Kerecanin from Hungary on Friday 5th October being a recent case in point – and adds to an increasingly growing list of differences between the two countries.

Other nations are somewhat more discrete – Israel, Romania, Bulgaria and so on – when it comes to “their” Ukrainian diaspora.

Either way, these nations are doing nothing illegal insofar as their domestic legislation is concerned, albeit ignoring the fundamental law of Ukraine.

As a point of politeness and diplomatic good manners therefore, it is a matter of the aggressive nature of providing their diaspora with citizenship within the territory of Ukraine that irks Kyiv in the current political, social and economic climate.

Kyiv can claim (if unconvincingly) to be unaware of what goes on within the territories of these nations should Ukrainian citizens visit and return with dual (or more) nationality – regardless of the Ukrainian Constitution.

However, there are of course criminal ways to obtain citizenship of one of the aforementioned (and other) nations and yet receive genuine citizenship and passports – sometimes without the bureaucrats within those nations being aware, or indeed the diplomats of those nations working within Ukraine.

There are far cleverer ways to accomplish the obtaining of an EU passport than simply dropping a large wad of cash on a corrupt diplomat’s desk – and indeed cheaper ways – to get genuinely legitimate documents through nefarious means.

To identify one such process, and one which the blog knows has worked on almost a dozen occasions (probably far, far more unknown to the blog via the same route) an example will be made of Romania – and where no senior or even mid-level Romanians are actually to be faulted.  (Romania may be aggressive with its citizenship in Moldova, but it is not in Ukraine.)

Indeed the process has even been employed by nefarious Russian citizens flying here but otherwise living, and doing dodgy property deals, in southeast Asia.

The scheme works via grandfather/grandmother rights – and its manipulation.

The Soviet Union, its purges, World War II, and the  subsequent collapse of that cancerous system witnessed the loss, destruction and falsification of a massive amount of documents – making finding those documents almost impossible for some.

There is a choice of simply now faking them if they no exist, or creating them where they never existed, with the assistance of archivists for literally a few Euro – or forgetting the endeavors of dual citizenship.

In Ukraine there are such archivists and forgers who will “find your grandmother” for certain small Romanian Consulates in Ukraine – who will then send the nefarious applicant to the Interior Ministry outposts in Romania with their blessing (and a Consulate issued Visa when they were required).

Once those documents supporting a claim to Romanian citizenship are checked and copied by an Interior Ministry outpost and a formal receipt given, the would-be Romanian citizen, with forged documents, returns to Ukraine while the Romanian bureaucracy goes through its (very slow) motions.

The original forged documents are then returned to the forger for safe keeping (subsequently reissued on the day of swearing citizenship in case they are requested, and after obtaining the citizenship certificate, once again confiscated ne’er to be seen again).

6 to 9 months later the would-be Romanian citizen finds their name on an electronic list of appointments to attend Bucharest and swear their citizenship approximately 1 year after their initial application (based on fake grandfather/mother documentation).

Upon swearing their citizenship, they are issued a certificate of citizenship at the ceremony (which acts as a temporary passport to (and only to) Romania.

Based upon the certificate of citizenship, applications for Romanian birth certificates, marriage certificates and then lastly passports (after all supporting documents for a passport have been issued by Romania) are carried out – and the documents duly received either by going to Romania to collect them, or via collection at the closest Romanian consulate (who are none the wiser to the original fraud upon which an entire folder of genuine Romanian documents are now based).

The average cost for the initial “grandfather rights” forgeries was Euro 2000 throughout 2016 and 2017.  No substantial uplift in 2018 either.  Thereafter additional costs are simply the standard Romanian costs of bureaucracy for any and all additional documents that follow the granting of citizenship.

Naturally this raises security issues for the EU too – particularly when nefarious Russians are flying in from southeast Asia to participate in this Ukrainian run scheme.

It is a well trodden path.  As stated already, the blog knows personally many that have successfully walked this path – and the facilitators of the scheme.

Undoubtedly there is a similar path for Bulgaria with similar facilitators (though any individuals involved are unknown to the blog in the case of Bulgaria).  Unquestionably it is not a scheme subject to intellectual property rights within the criminal class.

All of which leaves Ukraine with choices to be made regarding its citizens – whether they obtain dual (or more) citizenship via legitimate or criminal means.

Does it actually decide to systematically and consistently apply the codex within the Constitution and subsequently prosecute/take proscribed actions against those with dual (or more) nationalities?

If not, then it will continue to be ignored.

Therefore, should Ukraine continue to ignore it, yet remain selectively choosing to enforce it – with all sorts of unknown repercussions both home and abroad generally associated with “selective application”?  There is also the reaction of the most nationalist-leaning radical of elements within Ukraine to consider if a tacitly blind eye continues to be turned.

Should Ukraine amend the Constitution and allow dual citizenship, instantly legitimising tens of thousands of Ukrainians who currently hold dual (or more) citizenship?

If so, how would that affect national security, economics, politics and the electorate – both positively and negatively?

How many Russians would also swiftly become Ukrainians?  How many from the US, Canada, Australia etc would also take up Ukrainian grandfather rights?

How would they vote and what would the consequences be?  To be blunt some of the diaspora are bordering on swivel-eyed loons, while others would be solid citizens, and yet others pose a real threat.

In allowing dual (or more) citizenship, would that affect/provide cause for reconsideration of any existing and/or potential Visa-free arrangements/agreements?  The Ukrainian diaspora counts in many millions with some also being citizens of nations deemed hostile not necessarily by Ukraine after all.

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The inevitable Tomos

October 1, 2018

Autocephaly and Tomos of the Ukrainian Orthodox Kyiv Patriarchate, which first appeared to be becoming a reality in April 2018, will assuredly occur before the year end.

A matter worthy of note for a blog that (willingly or otherwise) continues to be pulled toward matters of organised crime and national security (occasionally not withstanding “defence” more broadly).

As such the autocephaly of the Kyiv Patriarchate and church-wide recognition of the Kyiv Patriarchate as an independent and equal entity to that of the long-perceived subordinating Moscow Patriarchate is in a broad sense a matter of national security.  This not only as it will reduce Moscow meddling within the bureaucracy and hierarchy within the Kyiv Patriarchate (despite a number of its current subversive clergy within the Kyiv church), but also as a solid block within the foundation of nation building.

There will no doubt be media interest from just which patriarchate any potential/current parliamentarian will wheel out and be photographed with during the next Verkhovna Rada election period from summer to October 2019.

For some, such as Vadim Novinsky, Sergei Kivalov and Nikolai Skorik, clearly the choice is already made.  Certainly Messrs Novinsky and Kivalov have a decades long and very public association with the Moscow Patriarchate.

For others like Mr Skorik, he will follow the Oppo Block party line – or for as long as his ultimate master Dmitry Firtash desires such an association.

If proof were required, the 29th September visit to Odessa of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Onufry provided it.

Naturally also present were Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and Metropolitan of Odessa and Izmail Agafangel.  Agafangel for 30 years has been a stalwart backer of Moscow and The Kremlin, and became particularly prominent due to a natural and undoubtedly prolonged shift in societal view away from Moscow since 2014.

Indeed, Agafangel has oft been accused (perhaps not inaccurately) of being far more than the shepherd of soviet and post-Soviet Kremlin leaning souls in the southwest of Odessa.  Occasionally he has been accused of being far more than a passionate useful Kremlin idiot, or even an agent provocateur too.

Of course Tomos and autocephaly will be robustly resisted by those aforementioned, despite its inevitability prior to the year end.

A reader may perhaps keep a watchful eye upon the permission to build Kyiv Patriarchate places of worship in deepest and darkest south-western Odessa – or not, when permission is not forthcoming, or forever stuck in local authority bureaucracy.

No doubt a rather defiant but pointless stand when, as the years and decades ahead pass and the Kyiv Patriarchate will come to dominate (if not completely replace) the Moscow Patriarchate.

It will thus be interesting to witness which Patriarchate the parliamentary and local political class wheel out for their election/re-election campaigns and festive season messages of goodwill and hope that will infect the local television broadcasts a few months hence.

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Activist shot in Odessa and claims Odessa City Hall responsible – Tzar or Boyars?

September 23, 2018

Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov has just gone on holiday for 2 weeks.

No sooner had he done so, the following day Odessa activist and political agitator and public figure (People Power party) Oleg Mikhailik was shot the following day.

Despite being shot with military rather than traumatic ammunition, fortunately the bullet having past through his arm and entering his chest leaving his in a serious condition, it appears Mr Mikhailik is destined to survive (this time at least).

Those closest to Mr Mikhailik have been swift to point an accusing finger at Mayor Gennady Trukhanov – perhaps understandably, for Mayor Trukhanov’s criminal history is hardly one that is devoid of violence or a literal body count, and is a man often (rightly) targeted by Mr Mikhailik.

Perhaps a reasonable presumption to make – perhaps a leap a little too far without more substantial evidence of Mayor Trukhanov’s involvement.

So is the Tzar responsible?

Is it a coincidence that the Mayor went on holiday immediately prior to the assassination attempt on Mr Mikhailik?

If there is a connection as claimed by those surrounding the victim, is Gennady Trukhanov going to claim he wasn’t even in the city when it happened and it is therefore nothing to do directly with him – a flimsy and distinctly narrow alibi, but nevertheless a narrative for the media.

Certainly the odds appear to be very much in favour of Mr Mikhailik having been targeted for his social/anti-corruption and/or political activity.  The odds of a domestic/neighbourly dispute being the source of this incident appear to be far more remote.

However, Mr Mikhailik has also targeted others within City Hall and has thus made enemies among the Boyars too.  History dictates that the Tzar will blame the naughty Boyars when corrupt and nefarious matters make their way into the public domain.

So is this a case of the Tzar is away and immediately the Boyars will play – at the expense of Oleg Mikhailik?

Further, all of those within City Hall have their vested interests outside of City Hall – and some of those interests have also faced the interventions of Mr Maikhailik.  Perhaps those interests beyond City Hall and those involved in those vested interests from beyond City Hall have taken matters into their own hands.

Whatever the case, the incident is being formally treated as an attempted assassination by the police and prosecutors office in Odessa.  Mr Mikhailik is also under police protection – at least while still in hospital.

Some may find this somewhat ironic given a history of allegations from Mr Mikhailik (again not without empirical, prima facie evidence) of particularly slow, half-blind, or entirely absent investigative incidents by the police relating to City Hall and those within.

Time will tell whether the offenders will be identified with regard to this particular incident – or not.

However, Odessa over the past few years has witnessed a continuing trend of attacks upon activists, journalists, civil society members and social media individuals all of whom have consistently called out the Trukhanov City Hall as a cesspit of corruption.

The broader question is perhaps whether this trend will see a rapid up-turn now elections are upon the horizon and what will be done by way of preventative measures (either before or behind the curtain) – if anything.  If so, where will intervention with sufficient power come from?  Kyiv?  The Governor?  Clearly it won’t come voluntarily from within City Hall.

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