Will Russian provocations succeed in Odesa?

Independence Day in Odesa, August 24, 2016 


Article by: Petro Kraliuk

In 2014, during the implementation of the “Novorossiya (New Russia) plan” Russian special services paid particular attention to Odesa. For the Russians it was important not only to seize Crimea and to “destabilize” the situation in the Donbas, but also to carry out similar activities in other eastern and southern oblasts in Ukraine. They probably planned to create a sort of semicircle of Russian controlled territories in eastern and southern Ukraine that stretched from Sloboda Ukraine (Slobozhanshchyna) and the Donbas to the border with the self-proclaimed Transnistrian republic, which has become a kind of Russian base on the border between Ukraine and Moldova.

It is no wonder that in December 2013, at the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity, the “parliament” of the republic requested the State Duma of Russia to draw up a law that would unite Transnistria with Russia.

Let us remember what was happening then. The Russians had just started to implement the “Novorossiya project.” The annexation of Crimea had begun and the “Russian spring” was spreading. The pro-Russian forces in Odesa had also become active. There is no doubt that if they had seized the city, the “Novorossiya semicircle” would have been completed and would have extended to Transnistria.

The Odesa provocations

Two Odesa residents, 2016

Two Odesa residents, 2016

Of course a number of Odesa residents have pro-Russian or even pro-Soviet attitudes. Although there are pro-Ukrainian forces here, they have not yet succeeded in gaining power in the city. However, in 2014, Odesa was in no hurry to become Russian. There were reasons for that. The Odesites, especiallly the businesspeople, understood that becoming some “Novorossiyan republic” would mean exposure to international sanctions, isolation, and ultimately the loss of many business advantages afforded by the city’s favorable geographic location on trade routes. Besides, they had the example of the isolated Transnistrian Republic.

Incidentally, Transnistria played a significant role in the 2014 events in Odesa. This self-proclaimed republic is within a stone’s throw from Odesa. There was no serious border with Transnistria. This is why pro-Russian “tourists” who staged provocations  came to Odesa from Transnistria. The separatists in Odesa were (at least partially) coordinated from Transnistria. Additionally, supporters of Novorossiya who had failed in Odesa fled to Transnistria to avoid prosecution in Ukraine.

Even though the pro-Russian forces failed to take Odesa, this does not mean they have disappeared. Russian agents are numerous and active here. This is why it is likely that Russian special services have been planning to carry  out an operation in Odesa this year with the goal of taking revenge. There are symbolic reasons for this. May 2 marks another anniversary of the deaths of some 40 separatists in Odesa’s Trade Union building (their deaths have still not been fully investigated) and “Victory Day,” on May 9, has always served as a pretext for the pro-Soviet and pro-Russian forces to carry out their actions.

For some reason (!) it was just before May this year that the deputies  of the Odesa city council suddenly decided to cancel the renaming of the city streets that had been completed during  decommunization. I don’t think there are ideological communists among these deputies, but undoubtedly many of them are pro-Russian. This decision by the city deputies, especially at this time, looks like a provocation. The decision has been overturned in court, but the conflict has a symbolic character, and we certainly should not  underestimate it. After all, people’s behavior is driven not only by the realities of the real world but also by those of the symbolic world. For example, people can be mobilized to action not so much by economic issues as by issues of language, religion, respect for certain dates and heroes and so on.

I would not be surprised if the supporters of the “Russian world” tried to organize support for the actions of the deputies of the Odesa city council who advocated for cancelling the  “decommunized” street names. They may even resort to street protests. And if demonstrations to  honor the people who died three years ago  in the Odesa  Trade Union building are added, as well as celebrations of “Victory Day,” this could create an explosive mixture capable of “destabilizing” the situation in Odesa.

Will the May holidays be peaceful in Odesa?

Security officials, Odesa, April 2016

Security officials, Odesa, April 2016

Ukrainian government officials understand the meaning of Odesa. This is why enhanced security is planned for the May holidays. Various law enforcement units are involved in maintaining  order.


It is assumed that a large number of police officers will be keeping order in the city during these days. And not only the police. Border control with Transnistria will be strengthened, since provocations are expected from there. However, I think pro-Russian  “tourists” from  Transnistria can easily get to Odesa through the Moldovan border. After all, it is not difficult to come to Moldova from the self-proclaimed republic and then to travel to Odesa. This is why during the May holidays the border control should be strengthened along the Moldovan border as well.

Of course, much depends on the security forces, but not everything.   If demonstrations become widespread,  then police and the army may turn out to be powerless. I trust that massive pro-Russian demonstrations will not happen in Odesa.

In fact, despite the presence of pro-Russian forces in this city, they are not as powerful as in Crimea or the  Donbas. This was demonstrated by events in 2014 and in subsequent years. Additionally, as already mentioned, there are pro-Ukrainian forces in Odesa as well. They should not be overestimated, but they are capable of resisting the supporters of the “Russian  World.”

In addition, there are economic factors that should prevent too much riotous behavior by pro-Russian forces in Odesa. It is not only the fear of Odesa’s businesspeople of becoming part of some unrecognized ” Novorossiyan republic.” There is also another economic factor. After the Russian occupation of Crimea, many Ukrainians who used to vacation on the peninsula in the summer have begun to go Odesa and the Odesa Oblast. And this represents serious income. Clearly, the pragmatic Odesites will not rush to support the adventurers of the Russian World. It is not in their  interest.

We will hope that May 2 and May 9  will be relatively quiet in Odesa. That law enforcement will be able to prevent possible provocations. And that the Odesa residents will not support the pro-Russian forces.

In general, the beginning of May will be one of the tests of the strength of the Ukrainian state. We hope the tests will be successful.

Historian Petro Kraliuk is vice-rector at the National University of Ostroh Academy

Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Source: Radio Svoboda

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  1. Avatar MichaelA says:

    I thought pro-Russian forces regularly tried to destabilise Odesa?

    As for the deaths in the fire, it hasn’t been fully investigated because the prime suspects fled to Russia.

  2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Stomp the Putinator.

  3. Avatar Alex George says:

    I agree with the author’s point that there are many officials and bureaucrats who would like to maintain Ukraine’s legacy of Soviet corruption. But that is not only in Odessa. His point about taking greater steps to cover the border with Transnistria is a good one.

    1. Avatar gmab says:

      And it would be an excellent idea to dump the pro-ruskie Mayor.

  4. Avatar Eolone says:

    Just today, Ukrainian security forces arrested a group that was set to launch a terrorist attack in Odesa.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Yes. Putin’s sabotage groups get nabbed far more often than they succeed, and even when they do their success is usually negligible. In one recent case they managed to blow up an unused train line!

  5. Avatar Murf says:

    The Pro Russians are shouvling aginest the tide.
    The situation has completely changed.
    Putin is no longer the Savior. The luster is off the “Novo Russia”
    Crimean poverty and Donbas devastation are all that come of it.

  6. Avatar Jack Hamilton says:

    The writer is a hack! The article is inflammatory and nothing but conjecture. More propaganda against Russia from those complicit with the illegal Kiev/Nazi Government.

    1. Avatar Brent says:

      Hey “Jack the pretend American living in Ukraine”, do us all a favor and go to Odesa and light yourself on fire like the other pro-Russians did 3 years ago….be the martyr you always wanted to and your Russian girlfriend can get your life insurance money!!!

      1. Avatar Jack Hamilton says:

        Spoken​ like a REAL American douchebag. It’s Americans like you that make me ashamed to admit being American. By the way, douche, I am in Odessa

        1. Avatar RedSquareMaidan says:

          Then you know the only nazis in Ukraine are those pro-ruSSians like you.

          1. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

            What about Svoboda, Pravy Sektor and Azov? All are nazi organizations or battalions, and they are Ukrainian

          2. Avatar MichaelA says:

            So you can come up with three small organisations
            That’s all?
            What about you and your millions of fellow nazis in Russia?

          3. Avatar RedSquareMaidan says:

            Try reading it slower so you can understand it. Put down your dog-kabob and try again…

          4. Avatar Alex George says:

            You have really shot yourself in the foot with this one – Svoboda and Pravy Sektor were at their strongest when Putin’s puppet Yanukovych was President of Ukraine. After he was ousted, those parties were decimated. They currently hold a total of 8 seats out of 451 in the Ukrainian Parliament.

            Contrast this with Russia, where the main neo-Nazzi party, United Russia, holds more than half the seats in the Russian Parliament.

            As for “battalions”, Azov long ago lost whatever right wing extremists connections it may have had. Many Jews are members of it.

            I will now leave you to repair the self-inflicted gunshot wounds to your feet.

        2. Avatar Eolone says:

          Just sneaked a peek. The Odesians are ok, calm. Don’t pick a Trumpian fight with them, and they’ll stay that way.

        3. Avatar MichaelA says:

          Then how come no-one else in Odesa says what you say?
          And why do you spell it the Russian way?

          1. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            Because his real name is Yakov Smirnov.

          2. Avatar MichaelA says:

            That explains a lot
            His family makes crap vodka

        4. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

          So “Jack Hamilton”, what is your real name? Yakov Smirnov?

        5. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

          ***SERBIAN*** ANIMAL “CULTURE”.


        6. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

          No you aren’t.


          Women’s Bodies a Battlefield in War for ‘Greater Serbia’
          Serbs raping 3-year-old girls URL

        7. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

          “By the way, douche, I am in Odessa”




          Women’s Bodies a Battlefield in War for ‘Greater Serbia’
          Serbs raping 3-year-old girls URL

      2. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

        You are a heartless [email protected]

        1. Avatar MichaelA says:

          Heartless but accurate

          1. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

            Heartless but inaccurate. New evidence shows that the nationalistic party “Svoboda” threw molotov coctails on a building which Pro-Russians were in

          2. Avatar RedSquareMaidan says:

            “New evidence” from the Russia?
            We’ve heard that before…like the last 500 years…

          3. Avatar gmab says:

            Ukrainians are athletically superior to ruskies but 4 floors up- lol. The idiots inside bbq’d themselves & their ruski handlers took off & left them there to die.

          4. Avatar Alex George says:

            It would have to be “new” evidence, wouldn’t it. Because the known evidence doesn’t support you.

            As others have already asked, without any response from you, where is this “new evidence”?

          5. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            The “evidence” provided by Kremlin trolls can be found in the worthless mud they try to throw against a wall.

        2. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

          SLAVA BANDERA!!!!

          Death to all Moskali !!!

      3. Avatar Murf says:

        After having read every one of his post on discus I am sure he is an American.
        A right wing, Putin loving, conspiracy laden, nut job;
        But American.

        1. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

          I’d sooner say it’s your ***SERBIAN*** friend! 🙂

          1. Avatar Murf says:

            His phrasing is similar but his gamer is far better.
            That is why I say they all sound the same.

          2. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

            “His phrasing is similar”

            “but his gamer is far better.”
            His “Anglish” has gotten better.
            Also — he HAS improved his game…. I agree with that…

            He has noticed (AFTER I HAD **REPEATEDLY** POINTED IT OUT TO HIM) —
            the proliferation of Ruski **MOLES** — so the mental case *INSTANTLY*]
            began imitating one —- the “Alex George gig” — i.e. – I’m not Ukie, don’t speak it etc..
            am a Ruski …. etc…

            He is STILL (clear to me) on “medications, otherwise YTF do this BS?

            There have been a SPATE of new entities (up-voting me) with 5 or so posts … on *GAMING* 🙂

            See what I mean?

            I TRULY despise OBNOXIOUS mental cases on drugs …. for as you KNOW —
            they are most “entitled”.

            There is a certain sadistic pleasure in “force medicating” the scumbags.

    2. Avatar Mykola Banderachuk says:

      thank you for this morning laugh

      1. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

        Yes, we are all laughing at the “new Ukraine”

        1. Avatar MichaelA says:

          keep laughing while ukraine succeeds

          1. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

            UKRAINE SUCCEEDS??!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!? This isn’t first of April, dude.

          2. Avatar Alex George says:

            How is Ukraine NOT succeeding? Despite Russia’s criminal aggression against it, Ukraine just shakes that off – its economy is growing, its cultural and political scene is flourishing, people in Ukraine live far better than in Russia, its trade and diplomatic links are increasing.

            There are some specifics for you – and you have nothing to say in response.

            Contrast that with Russia under Putin’s regime, where the military is weak, the economy is sinking, and it is heading towards break-up.

          3. Avatar MichaelA says:

            Then why are you posting?

          4. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            Rafochko only laughs (and farts) when he is resupplied with rotten Putin cabbage and regurgitated Tannu Tuvan vodka. Actually, that is somewhat funny albeit in a strange sort of way and usually found only in some weird movies.

          5. Avatar MichaelA says:

            Its pretty bad to be Russia these days

    3. Avatar veth says:

      The iliegal nazzi regime in Russia you mean.

      1. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

        No, it means that not all voters in Ukraine were allowed to participate to vote who they consider a more proper president than the current one

        1. Avatar MichaelA says:

          You are confusing Ukraine with russia

          1. Avatar Rafael Hernandez says:

            *Unlike Russia where everyone, regardless of views, religion and ethnicity can vote whomever they want. the 2014 Ukrainian election was a farce beyond decency

          2. Avatar Ihor Dawydiak says:

            Wrong channel. Turn your dial to RT55 (if you can find it) and compare your misery with like-minded individuals who are mentally challenged.

          3. Avatar gmab says:

            He’s a Venezualian married to a Kharkiv native (ethnic Russian) and both living in the USA where he trolls for RT cash.

          4. Avatar slavko says:

            and your supporting documents are where comrade?

          5. Avatar Murf says:

            Is that why the international monitors certified it?
            Putin even recognized the results.
            Hey! Your not questioning Putin’s decision are you?

          6. Avatar MichaelA says:

            That is Ukraine where you can do that
            In Russia you can vote for whoever you want
            As long as it’s putin

          7. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:

            Arguing with yourself? 🙂

          8. Avatar MichaelA says:

            No I am arguing with Rafael. You have said I am Alex g, Murf, and now Rafael. His interesting that the Putin troll Mr Jackson says I am all of those and Vasyl and Igor as well. Just like you.
            I think you are using several accounts
            Mr Jackson is one of them and maybe Styx as well

        2. Avatar Andrew Chmile says:



    4. Avatar gmab says:

      Most of it is based on intercepted calls from Russia to thugs in Odessa. It’s all out in the open now. The May 2 Trade Bldg fiasco was instigated by pro-russian thugs – most brought in from the monhol north & Transnistria. Too bad that alot of the hoodlums chose to follow the Putler & lost their lives doing so.

    5. Avatar Murf says:

      Putin recognized the election results as well as all the countries that really matter.
      I guess that means PUTIN is a pawn of Israel or a fellow Nazi or both?

    6. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

      Farkov you Putin parrot.