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Nikolai Holmov

Collusion or Ineptitude? Take Your Pick – Odessa

5 May 2014. Yesterday I wrote “Questions will no doubt be raised over the actions and inactions of the city administration and institutions. Some of it will be fair and some undeserved.” Today’s entry is late.  I went to lay flowers at the scenes where people died both in the city centre and at Union House.  That people should die regardless of their visions of Odessa’s future due to orchestrated confrontations is a catastrophe for the city.

Odessa, Ukraine, 2 May 2014.  Author: Peter Shuklinov, source: Flickr

Odessa, Ukraine, 2 May 2014. Author: Peter Shuklinov, source: Flickr

3 May: Odessa – The morning after

Prior to a few days ago, hardly a bloody nose had resulted from these different visions amongst the Odessa constituency over the past months.  To change that required an orchestrated incident – and it came.

Perhaps appropriately it rained quite heavily most of this afternoon.  It seemed appropriate to the melancholy mood of the majority of the city these past two days.

Today, Arseniy Yatseniuk came to Odessa, promising things like impartial and transparent investigations and court proceedings.  He also stated the Odessa police were responsible for the events of 2nd May and that the regional head had been removed and every officer was now under investigation.  That is a very shallow view – perhaps deliberately so.  The police are as politically controlled by Odessa’s grey cardinals today as they have always been.

No sooner had he left Odessa, did many of the supporters of separatism head from their gathering outside Union House to the police station at Zhukovskogo Preobrajenskaya demanding the release of 30 or so detainees taken into custody during the tragic events of 2nd May.

Without too much fuss, the police released them.  Possibly in an effort to prove Mr Yatseniuk right.   That said, such is the current governments penchant for granting amnesties for pretty much anybody who decides to do  pretty much anything on the political extremes these days, perhaps it was only a matter of time before these people would have been amnestied anyway.

More: “Who is to Blame for the Tragic Deaths in Odessa?”

Everybody would have grave doubts they would have received a fair trial considering the dire state of the judicial system if it gets/had ever got that far.   That would be true of detainees from either side too.

Mysteriously, at about the same time, the police also disappeared from Union House, and a huge Russian flag reappeared.  If they were called to act as reinforcements at Zhukovskogo, then they didn’t arrive.

As I tweeted at the time:

Difference between 1st and 4th May in #Odessa now seems to be nothing more than wasted lives. Spectacular #fail or collusion by authorities

— Nikolai Holmov (@OdessaBlogger) May 4, 2014

How else to describe it?  The separatists are back at Union House, Russian flag waving.  There are few, if any detainees from either side in police custody despite the violence and deaths.

But things have changed.

The position, effectiveness – and in some cases loyalties and biases one way or the other – of the police chain of command is now known.

Those who are alleged to be controlling the police response in Odessa are also known – but they have always been known, for they have always been the “go to” people if you had serious trouble with either the police or the courts in Odessa.

The interests, friendships, associations and alliances of these peoples are also well known to those from Odessa.

Those truly behind these events on both sides will be fairly confident nothing will happen to them as they will have watched events unfold on the Internet or TV screen. They were not there.  Plausible deniability exists.  They have immunity they have always used with impunity – and even without it they can buy any police investigation and/or court result.


This post was originally published here

Follow the Author on Twitter: @OdessaBlogger


Read also: “Dissecting the Dead in Odessa”

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UK citizen living in Ukraine since 2005 after working 15 years for The Crown. Actively engaged in civil society, blogger, Chatham House member, policy wonk, contributer to numerous Eastern European PhD papers, books and papers.

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