Posts Tagged ‘Sport’


The road to Romania (The Odessa Oblast presentation)

April 25, 2016

Having mentioned recently (again) the necessity of maximising the relationship between Romania and Ukraine, the 25th April saw the Oblast Administration release estimates for a new 4 lane road from Odessa to Reni – and beyond into Romania, entering at the Orlovka-Isakchea border point.

There are 3 phases to the construction of this road.

Phase 1 is the Odessa to Shabo road, approximately 81 kilometers in length, including a bridge of almost 6 kilometers over the Dniester.  This cost has been estimated at $700,000 for the road – $400,000 for the bridge.

The second phase is a stretch of road to Orlovka of approximately 180 kilometers at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.

The final stage, which seems likely to be part funded by Romania (and/or perhaps the EU via one of its many regional development budgets) is a 10 kilometer stretch of road, including a bridge over the Danube of approximately 4.5 kilometers in length.  The total cost $1.7 billion.

A grand total of approximately $4.6 billion for approximately 260 kilometers of 2 dual carriageways with a combined road width of approximately 29 meters, two substantial bridging projects, about 22 minor structures and an approximated usage of between 16,000 – 22,000 vehicles per day.

Aside from some Romanian (and/or EU funding) at the Isakchea end, the funding appears to be currently sourced from central government and customs duties payments allocated from those collected at Odessa Port (presuming the current transparent workings of Odessa Part are not toppled by the usual suspects/vested interests in the immediate future and the “old nefarious ways” return with a vengeance.)

Odessa Reni

$4.5 – $5 billion does seem a lot of money.  Questions will undoubtedly be asked about such a sum – and quite rightly.  Every single possible US$ return, both tangible and intangible, will have to be squeezed out of such a project.

To be blunt the existing road has long exceeded its lifespan, and to continue to employ “bodge it and scarper” patching contractors employing inferior materials and accompanying poor tradesmanship is financially self-defeating too.

That said, the new road, as Rome, is not going to be built in a day, ergo the budgetary costs will not have to be met in one budgetary period, but planned across several.  Construction is supposed to begin at the end of May 2016.

The new road is also about more than infrastructure and facilitating 22,000(ish) vehicles with a swift and quality trade/transport route.

The road is also clearly a political project too.  It ties Odessa as a city to the southwest of Odessa Oblast, and then onward to Romania and thus the EU not only physically, but also psychologically.  It is thus important to make the most of the proposed new infrastructure not only economically and politically, but also socially within and without the Oblast and national borders.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Briefly considering the above factual information, a reader may ponder whether there has been, is, or will be any thought toward a cycle lane.  In dropping this anchor into the Romanian and European infrastructure, then surely it should accommodate all the existing Romanian and European infrastructure that already exists at the other end.

There are numerous official Eurovelo routes across the EU.  One of those routes is Eurovelo 6.  This particular cycle route runs from France to Romania and could easily be afforded an official spur along the new road into Odessa city.

Indeed this blog was approached about just that, and whether there would be the interest and political support by the political class of Odessa.   If not could such interest and political support be generated?

Such things are not a problem.  A few words with a longtime good friend Petr Obyhov then of the Odessa Oblast Rada, and Odessa MP Alexie Goncharenko, et voilà –


The only prerequisite required in getting such documentation swiftly is knowing which of the local political class are keen cyclists and which are not.  Knowing both Messrs Goncharenko and Obyhov are extremely keen cyclists guarantees the support.  Official political support as requested for the Eurovelo planning people in Brussels duly delivered (and “brownie points awarded to the blog for accomplishing such a simple task).

From a local societal perspective, as this blog occasionally glances at unpublished yet official opinion polls, there is a demand from the local constituency for an expansion of city-wide dedicated cycle lanes.  A most recent (official but unpublished) opinion poll had 5% of the city population “very keen” for the expansion of dedicated cycle lanes in the city.  (A percentage that can influence election results for any would-be Mayoral candidates in a city of 1 million plus.)

Ergo, cycling to and from Odessa – Romania (and vice versa) is likely to become quite popular, and also benefit the local economies of the towns and villages along the route in south-west of the Oblast.   Indeed when the Eurovelo people approached the blog, they had already completed the ride despite an existing road surface as cratered as the lunar surface.


EV6 (Pink)




In summary, a reader may wonder how thorough the thinking by the Odessa Oblast Administration as to how to maximise the cultural and societal ties the proposed $4.6 billion Odessa-Reni road can bring.  What else lurks the other side of the Romanian border that can spur toward Odessa?  To squeeze every last intangible societal and cultural US$ from this political and economic investment, in pursuing the official EV6 spur to its bureaucratic conclusion, perhaps a marked cycle lane on the new road, and a few “EV6” signposts will go a little way in doing so.

When many within the Odessa community engage in 100 kilometer fun rides, cycling 260 kilometers on a quality surface into Romania will probably seem like a fun weekend for quite a few (perish the thought)!


Nominees for the new Cabinet

November 15, 2014

Leaving aside the appointments for certain Cabinet positions that are constitutionally the remit of the president, such as Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, the current best guess for the cabinet appointments via those that are the constitutional remit of the parliament, appears to be as follows:

Prime Minister – Arseniy Yatseniuk

Speaker – Unknown (Groysman/Lutsenko/Turchynov/Sobolev/Another?)

Deputy PM (Regional Policy) – Volodymyr Groysman

Deputy PM (Humanitarian Affairs) – Igor Zhdan

Deputy PM (Agrarian) – Ivan Miroshnichenko

Deputy PM (European Integration) – (Lutsenko/Turchynov/Sobolev/Another?)

Minister of Justice – Pavlo Petrenko

Minister of Interior – Arsen Avakov

Minister of Social Policy – Pavlo Rozenko

Health Minister – Vasyl Lazoryshynets

Minister of Culture – Evgen Nyschuk

Minister of Energy and Mines – Andrei Kobolyev

Education Minister – Sergei Kvit

Minister of Economy – Dmitry Shimkiv

Minister of Agriculture and Food – Leonid Kozachenko

Minister of Finance – Vitaly Lisovenko

Minister of Youth and Sports – Dennis Silantyev

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources – Hanna Hopko

Head of Radio and Television – Yuriy Stets

Such nominations if passed by parliament will keep 6 acting/currently in office Ministers in situ, promote a current Deputy Minister to Minister in Finance, give the Radical Party the position of Minister for Youth and Sport, the Self Help Party the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources portfolio, a Deputy PM (Humanitarian Affairs) to Batkivshchyna, and fairly evenly split the rest between the President’s Block Poroshenko, and the Prime Minister’s People’s Front.  Not to mention the move from Naftogaz to Energy Minister for Andrei Kobolyev.

If all nominations are accepted by the new parliament (and hopefully blessed by the president with no small amount of goodwill) – are the egos small enough to drive policy forward as both individuals and a team?

We shall soon see.


Symbology of the terraces – Ukrainian nationalists

September 30, 2013

In what is likely to severely scupper somebody’s business plans for the Lviv Arena, FIFA have banned the Ukrainian national football team from playing there until the completion of the 2018 World Cup tournament.

Quite rightly given the breaking of FIFA rules.

The offences committed reminiscent of UK football terraces in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s – pyrotechnics aside, which were never popular and quite simply cost prohibitive in these days.

Anti-social and racist undercurrents were though, almost entirely at club level.  I seldom saw it on trips to Wembley to watch internationals.

The 1980s were the days of 1 in 10 unemployment, plus underemployment, a youth disenfranchised from the political class and most of what was around them.

A time of race riots, poll tax riots and a good deal of generally antisocial behaviour.

Whether there are any parallels that can be drawn from the UK terraces of 1980’s, the high unemployment, the disenfranchised youth, a political class that seemed to offer nothing, the anti-social and racist tone etc – and today’s Ukraine, well that is not for me to make any academic links.

The study of nationalism, racism, mob behaviour and the symptoms of unemployment and disenchantment will all, undoubtedly, be studied somewhere.

Anyway, upon the banning of the Ukrainian national team playing in the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism – Lviv – you have to question the timing of the Ukrainian Youth Nationalists petition to FIFA to allow the symbols of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) onto the terraces,


Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)   upa

and the Galacian Lion-  gal lion

All seemingly inoffensive in and of themselves – but then symbols are simply symbols when all is said and done.

It is the associations people have with symbols – good and bad – that shape their opinions and that of governing bodies.

The question has to be asked however, why there is now a desire to have old political and military symbols on Ukrainian terraces when much of Ukraine does not associate itself with these symbols anyway?  In making this application are the Ukrainian Nationalist Youth aiming to offend parts of Ukraine – or others external of Ukraine?  Perhaps both?

What do these symbols mean to others?

With the next Ukrainian game to be played against Poland – who would have some considerable objection to these symbols one has to suspect – it is perhaps as well that the game will now be played behind closed doors and elsewhere other than Lviv.

The chances of these symbols being rehabilitated by FIFA – well they must be slim.

However if they are rehabilitated, it is perhaps justice that the symbols of Galicia so coveted by the nationalists will not be seen on the terraces of an international match within the Galician region for the next 5 years.

Reap as ye sow!


Euro Basketball 2015 – The continuation of an Odessa sporting makeover?

February 24, 2013

As many will recall, Ukraine held the Euro 2012 football championships – Odessa was not a host city – but it built a new football stadium anyway – and very good it is – albeit the biggest names to play there thus far have been bands such as Linkin Park and Garbage.

Less well known is that Ukraine is to host the EuroBasket 2015, European Basketball Championships.  Neither Ukraine nor Odessa have particularly shabby basketball teams.  Championship winners they may not be, but bottom of the league they are not either.

Anyway, it appears that Odessa will have two brand new multi-functional stadiums and an extensive refurbishment of the existing Sports Palace on Prospect Shevchenko (opposite Victory Park) in order to host part of the EuroBasket 2015 competition.  The construction of, and refurbishment of these premises will cost UAH 42 million (about $5 million) and will be carried out by Ihor Kolomoisky’s business group.  Ergo, we had better hope that parts of his empire like Privat Bank survive, whilst other parts, such as AeroSvit go bankrupt (deliberately or otherwise).

The new stadium will be built on the grounds of what is currently known as October Revolution Plant and will have seating for 10,000 or more people.  The plan is that is will also be able to host hockey, 5/7-a-side indoor football etc after the EuroBasket competition is over.

On the outskirts of Odessa, it is planned to build a multi-purpose training facility.  Location as yet unknown/identified apparently – very much like the UAH 42 million to pay Mr Kolomoisky for his efforts – as the source of this funding is also currently unknown.

Nevertheless, it appears that Odessa will soon have not only the new and very good Chernomoretz football stadium, but also one extensively refurbished, and one new multi-purpose indoor arena, together with a multi-purpose training facility.

Ignoring all the possible shenanigans and probably nefarious mechanics behind the who, where and how of this project, I have one hope – the design and facilities will be conducive to disabled access and sporting participation long after the EuroBasket 2015 circus has left.

Too much to hope for?


The Diplomatic Games – Moscow 4-8 October

August 29, 2012

Well, we’ve had the Eurovision, Euro 2012 football tournament, Olympics 2012, and the Paralympics 2012 begins in effect today.  That is to name just a few major sporting events in 2012.

A veritable sports-fest for those inclined to either participate or go along as a spectator.

But, my dear readers, with the conclusion of the Paralympics, international pride in the sporting arena does not end there this year.

Between 4th and 8th October in Moscow, The Diplomatic Games takes place.  Possibly the very pinnacle of international sporting events and gladiatorial achievements to be held in 2012.

Taking part are diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Britain, Japan, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia.  Least they are the nations that have already confirmed their participation.

The nations of the USA, India, Serbia, Kazakhstan have all expressed an interest to compete in future games, although not the forthcoming event.

The winning nations of this prestigious event receives a loving cup depicting 5 figures holding a globe mounted on a very nice malachite base!  Corrrr!

So what are the disciplines within The  Diplomatic Games?  Finding a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue?  Creating a stable Pakistan?  Formulating the best plans to deal with militancy?  Finding clever and smart answers to climate change, global economic imbalances or world hunger?

Maybe something less tricky.  Maybe who can think up the best, most quirky and funny acronyms?  Who can deliver the fastest speaking note without stumbling or becoming incoherent?  A diplomatic bag relay perhaps?

Errrm – Well no.

The national diplomatic teams will be competing in the disciplines of mini-football, lawn tennis, table tennis, chess and badminton.  This reaches a crescendo on the final day with a Diplomatic Best 11 verses the Russian diplomatic crops in a gala football match.

Well blimey!

The previous UK Ambassador to Ukraine, Leigh Turner, was a bit of a star at table tennis.  There was ( and possibly still is) a table tennis table in the UK residency that was in fairly regular use – and rumour has it, (in fact more than rumour), that several bloody good paddlings were handed out via this table tennis table to visiting foreign diplomats and various other persons of assorted import that had occasion to attend the UK Ambassador’s residency in Kyiv.

A note to the FCO, if Mr Turner is not in the UK diplomatic table tennis team then there is something wrong with the selection process.

Indeed, our current Charges d’Affaires in Kyiv is also a bit of a sportsman, cutting a very trim figure, and no doubt would prove a very nimble player in the mini-football.

One wonders also, whether retired FCO diplomats are allowed to take part.  Charles Crawford, according to his own historical records, was a bit of a whiz at chess in his Oxford days.

The question that has to be asked, is whether William Hague will be acting as team manager or whether that will fall to a senior FCO civil servant.

I will contact HM Embassy Kyiv and try to find a Team UK list for this prestigious event over the coming weeks.  I will also try to get a similar team list from Ukraine.  Naturally come the closing ceremony, I will announce the winning team.

All those Union Jacks waved with such vigor during the Jubilee, Euro 2012, Olympics and Paralympics are quite likely to need a year off in 2013 to recover – but don’t put them away just yet – wait until the sporting event of 2012 is over!


Korolevska welcomes Andrey Shevchenko to her party

July 30, 2012

Following up on the political aspirations of Ukraine’s most famous footballer, Andrey Shevchenko, I mentioned two days ago, he has joined the party of Natalia Korolevska, “Ukraine Forward”, and quit football with immediate effect.

We now have two of Ukraine’s most famous sportsmen in the shape of Klischko (UDAR) and Shevchenko (Ukraine Forward) in parties that are outside the United Opposition, but are in opposition parties.   It seems Mr Shevchenko sees “Ukraine Forward” as “one of Ukrainian parties of the future.”

One wonders just how much they may effect the voting for the United Opposition, particularly with the United Opposition having allowed the polarising ultra-right Svoboda into their ranks only last week.

Prima facie, a nice boost for Korolevska who has only a 2.8% popularity rating prior to Mr Shevchenko’s announcement, meaning Ukraine Forward would currently fall short of the 5% threshhold necessary for any proportional representation in the RADA.  (Apparently Andrey Shevchenko will be the second name on the party list after Ms Korolevska.)

Certainly not bad news for the ruling PoR who are currently sitting on about 22% of the national vote, but possibly not good news for the United Opposition on about 20% as it is their voting base that seems most likely to be affected by Mr Shevchenko’s choice (if it is affected at all).

Add any voter drift because of Shevchenko’s hero-like status in Ukraine to that of Klitschko, whose party is on about 8.5% and growing, again the majority of those voters are also likely to come from the United Opposition ranks.

As for Mr Shevchenko’s belief that Ukraine Forward is one of the political parties of the future, well maybe, but  not very likely looking at Ms Korolevska, his party leader’s political past I’m afraid.  Well, unless Ukraine’s political future is just as bad as its political present and political past – or she genuinely turns over a new leaf (which is possible even if incredibly unlikely).


Another international PR disaster for Ukraine – Or is it?

May 23, 2012

In yet another international PR disaster, forgetting the domestic ones, it seems Volodymyr  Gerashchenko from the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee has been caught in a British media sting relating to the sale of Olympic tickets on the black market.

In a nutshell, he apparently agreed to sell about 100 Olympic tickets to a journalist posing as a ticket tout, although no tickets were actually sold and indeed no juicy details such as prices are mentioned in the article suggesting this story broke before it got to the stage of financial negotiations.

Anyway, on the face of it yet another international PR disaster for Ukraine, although not of the government’s making this time, that includes robust statements from British MPs and the Metropolitan Police investigating the allegations relating to a well placed, senior Ukrainian official and corrupt practices.

However, if the Ukrainian authorities move quickly and bring Mr Gerashchenko back to Ukraine with immediate effect whilst inquiries are underway in the UK, accompanied by the right diplomatic noises and statements relating to his removal pending the investigations, there maybe some mileage in it for the current authorities and their so-called fight against corruption with an international spin.

The question is, will the Ukrainian authorities do something that proactive?

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