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A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to visit the lovely city of Odessa in Ukraine. A casual comment got one supporter all riled up, which led me to write a lengthy response. Since then, I pointed the Unsleeping Eye towards activities in that neck of the woods, and discovered even more evidence that the police in Odessa are corrupt thugs.
First though, it never ceases to amaze me how hard it is for people to admit that they don’t know something about a given subject. It’s a topic discussed in a book I read this week, and has been a pearl of wisdom since (at least) the days when Socrates visited the Oracle at Delphi. The issue, as I addressed recently, is that FIRST people have an opinion, and then they find the facts that bolster that opinion.
Therefore if you were raised to fear and despise the Russians, and the police in Odessa are anti-Russian, then somehow this equates to Odessa police are the good guys. Nice theory, but totally wrong even IF the Russians are the “bad guys”.
Understanding Ukraine from a distance is hard. That’s equally true for me, living as I do close to the border. I’d have to move to Ukraine, speak both languages fluently, and reside there for a decade before even beginning to consider myself really knowledgeable. But one thing I know right off – corruption is endemic as hell. And so it’s axiomatic that a public institution like the police are going to be anything BUT a force for good.
It turns out that there’s a Russian-speaking hacker collective (similar to Anonymous in the English-speaking world) called Khinkali who have been keeping a sharp eye on the “governor” of Odessa oblast (county/state), Mikhail Saakashvili. Knowing his public past, it’s no surprise that the guy is a shit. But I had to laugh when I saw this article (link in Russian) from a pro-Kiev Ukrainian TV channel.
In case your Russian is a little rusty, it says that Dmitri Golubov, an MP from Odessa, and a member of President Poroshenko’s ruling party, has been siphoning off funds from an NGO called “For a Better Odessa” to do all kinds of immoral things. Apparently, Golubov has been illegally using these NGO funds to fly all kinds of people to and from (the Republic of) Georgia, including Saakashvili’s favorite singer, Sofia Nizharadze. But what caught my eye was that another benefit of these illegal free trips was none other than the Odessa police chief, Giorgi Lortkipanidze.
Obviously that family (last) name is not Ukrainian or Russian, and a few minutes’ worth of research showed that he’s an old crony of Saakashvili’s from back in Georgia. You might be wondering why a Georgian got the top post in a Ukrainian police department, but that’s how an oligarchy works, folks. And, it looks like the police chief has only had the position since June 16, which means he wasted no time in profiting off of the endemic corruption.
The chain of evidence is clear. Poroshenko is the president, who is close allies with the idiotic Mikhail Saakashvili, so he (Poroshenko) installed Saak as governor of Odessa in order to keep the region out of the hands of pro-Russian oligarchs. Then one of Poroshenko’s deputies, a local Odessa man named Golubov, has been illegally siphoning off NGO funds to fly Saak and his entourage back and forth to Odessa. And one of Saak’s main henchmen is now the Odessa police chief. Got it?
For double irony points, Georgia, much like Moldova, was once part of the Soviet Union, and almost everyone is bilingual in Russian. So dollars to donuts, the police chief doesn’t speak a word of Ukrainian, and conducts all of his business in the Russian language. But that’s okay, since he’s a Russian-speaking anti-Russian, which clearly makes him a better candidate for the job than a native Ukrainian. Triple LOL.
So yeah, those are the wonderful “forces of good” in charge of patrolling the train station and keeping the peace in Odessa. I bet you feel safer now already!