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The Daily Vertical: Eye On Odesa (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

In the coming weeks, it's probably a very good idea to keep a close eye on Odesa.

It's a good idea to keep a close eye on Odesa because the Panama Papers revealed that the city's mayor, Gennadiy Trukhanov, is a Russian citizen with more than 20 offshore holdings.

It's a good idea to keep an eye on Odesa because crowds of protesters who camped out around City Hall to demand Trukhanov's resignation were attacked this week by thugs wielding baseball bats.

And it's a good idea to keep an eye on Odesa because the May 2nd anniversary of deadly clashes between Moscow-backed militants and pro-Kyiv demonstrators in 2014 is fast approaching.

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Predominantly Russian-speaking and fiercely independent, Odesa remained staunchly loyal to Kyiv throughout Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine.

Its residents proudly boast that theirs is the freest Russian-speaking city in the world -- and they'd like to keep it that way, by remaining in Ukraine.

But Odesa also has its rabble rousers who are glad to do Moscow's bidding -- for a price. Many of them reputedly have ties to Odesa's criminal underworld.

A friend of mine in the city derisively refers to them as "professional Russians."

And I expect these professional Russians to be very busy in the coming weeks.

Odesa is a city where I have lived and worked -- and for which I have a lot of affection.

So I'll be keeping a close eye on developments there.

And I'd suggest that everybody else do so as well.

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