A few evenings ago, a very enjoyable chat/dinner occurred between this blog and Willem-Gert Aldershoff, a poor soul formerly tasked with working feverishly within the European Commission departments of International Relations as well as Justice and Home Affairs.
During a wide-ranging conversation the current issues surrounding Mayor Trukhanov were raised. Not withstanding his long known and acknowledged history and interaction with (in)famous organised crime figures, questions were asked over his current plans for the city, the current disregard of City Hall for its own city ordnance, the Panama Papers fallout, his holding of Russian citizenship (which he denies but has long been known prior to Panama Papers disclosures), and more generally the robustness of his patriotic verve with regard Ukraine (rather than undoubted fondness for Odessa in his own way).
To be blunt, none of the above is likely to trouble Mayor Trukhanov – at least for now.
Perhaps his biggest threat comes from an ever-bubbling feud with the Syrian billionaire owner of Kadorr Group, Adnan Kivan, (who was/is close to the infamous Odessa MP Sergei Kivalov) and the continued leaking of nefarious detail to the media regarding behind their curtain dealings.
However, discounting the feud with Mr Kivan, of the aforementioned issues that may take longer to dissipate that most, is the issue relating to the holding of a Russian passport/citizenship. Mayor Trukhanov, with his owned and aligned media were hardly supporters of the current direction Ukraine has taken during the turmoil of late 2013/early 2014 – quite the opposite. That together with his (alleged) citizenship of Russia naturally will take some time to become a background issue for many who simply do not like, nor trust, the cut of his patriotic jib.
Indeed back in April, Verkhovna Rada parliamentarians began to collect signatures to bring forth early elections for the position of Mayor of Odessa – despite the mandate having only been granted by the voting constituency in 2015 to Mayor Trukhanov.
Notably of the 70 parliamentary signatories seeking new elections for the position of the Mayor of Odessa, there is not a single parliamentarian (of a possible 16) upon the list who represents Odessa – be they parliamentarians that obtained their seats by way of Party List of first past the post Single Mandate in the proportional representation electoral system, and regardless of political party.
When it comes to the personal vested interests of the parliamentarians of Odessa, some like the uncrowned Tsar of the Oblast’s southwest/Bessarabian region, Anton Kisse, have far greater interest in influencing the Oblast Administration rather than Trukhanov’s City Administration – but why make local enemies unnecessarily?
The parliamentarians that do represent the city, such as Sergei Kivalov, whilst perhaps not particularly enamored with Mayor Trukhanov, have no reason to unnecessarily upset whatever deals they have reached with him.
Yet others have association with those around the current Mayor, or those around him have sufficient levers over them regarding past occurrences – be they business or personal that preferably will remain private – “Kompromat”. There are also issues of those who historically stand behind the current Mayor.
In short there will be no parliamentary signatures from the MPs of Odessa any time soon – if ever.
Ergo the existing 70 parliamentary signatories may struggle to make their case within the Verkhovna Rada without a single parliamentarian from Odessa on board – this notwithstanding the tacit approval/support/defence of Mayor Trukhanov within and/or before the Presidential Administration.
Whether such Presidential Administration approval/support/defence is due to grubby deals (as long asserted during the mayoral elections of 2015) or simply due to the lack of any existing alternative who could garner a large enough local democratic mandate whilst being sufficiently loyal/obedient to the Presidential Administration perhaps matters little – The point being that without such a candidate there is not likely to be any further momentum either within the Verkhovna Rada of its own volition, nor such momentum introduced by the Presidential Administration, unless Mayor Trukhanov really drops the ball, or really drops his facade – neither of which is probable.
As such it is of little surprise that there is no political desire (publicly and via the application of the rule of law) to exploit the feud between Messrs Kivan and Trukhanov, or to challenge an ever-lengthening list of unambiguous contraventions of (read willful ignorance and/or absolute disdain for) the City Ordnance.
Indeed it appears that Mr Kivan is making efforts to associate/ingratiate himself with President Poroshenko (particularly noticeable on Navy Day when President Poroshenko was in Odessa and met with Mr Kivan), perhaps acknowledging a degree of precariousness regarding his own position – not that Mayor Trukhanov can really afford to be seen to shaft a prominent and major foreign investor in Odessa (albeit his wife Olga and children may dilute the category of “foreign” somewhat).
Nevertheless, the draft resolution for early mayoral elections is also not going to disappear. It will hang, albeit as a currently blunt sword of Damocles , over Mayor Trukhanov. As the above images display, the latest efforts are dated as recently as 15th July.