"The future is created by those who are not indifferent." This slogan is not bad, but it has nothing to do with our politicians. Under this slogan, various Pride events would take place in Odesa in the last days of August. The organizer is the local branch of the Gay Alliance of Ukraine.
After all, take at least a Servant of the People party in Odesa. This organization did not deal with the city issues at all. And in vain, because at one time in the first round, the Odesa region gave 41.26% of the vote for President Zelensky. It is difficult to say how to explain the indifference to Odesa on the part of the Servant of the People party. But head of its regional branch Serhiy Koleboshyn (and concurrently - the MP) was elected only a few months ago.
But Koleboshin does not participate in the mayor's races from the Servant of the People. Who then? The candidate has not been officially announced, but comedian Oleh Filimonov is called the candidate from the ruling party. In any case, a nominee from the presidential political force (whoever he or she becomes) does not yet participate in the polls.
Incumbent mayor of Odesa Gennadiy Trukhanov might count on the support of a little less than half of those who have made up their mind (and there are a lot of those who have not yet chosen a candidate, so everything might change). Trukhanov is followed by Mikheil Saakashvili, Serhiy Kivalov, Oleksiy Leonov, Tetiana Plachkova, and Dmytro Spivak. The difference in votes between the candidates is small, so it is now impossible to predict who would enter the second round.
Trukhanov: scandals and ratings
Ukrainian general tendency, when the rating of a person in power falls over time, seems to extend only to presidents and prime ministers, but not to mayors. In any case, Trukhanov, like Klitschko, Sadovy (Lviv mayor), and Kernes (Kharkiv mayor), did not lose too much in the eyes of his voters. Despite all the scandals during his career. Although there is a tendency to fall. In May 2014 Trukhanov became mayor, gaining 43.5% of the vote, and in October 2015, he received 51.3% of the vote, now the incumbent mayor has a little over 40%.
What is the secret of the Odesa mayor? First, it is connected with the media resource. It should be noted that Odesa is the absolute champion of Ukraine in terms of the number of TV channels per regional center. There are more than 30 TV companies of all formats in the city, and some of them either directly belong to the mayor or are in partnership with him.
But it's not just the media. Trukhanov, perhaps, chose the only correct path to the hearts of the townspeople, taking up infrastructure projects, and this is his second “secret.” New Stambulsky Park, a modern mall and entertainment area on Starosinna Square, a significant improvement in the quality of urban electric transport - the number and scale of improvements in the urban environment should be really noted.
However, skeptics and critics never tire of pointing out that much less attractive things are hidden behind the ornate facade of Trukhanov's rule. Improvement contracts are won mainly by the same firms associated with the mayor or his entourage. Moreover, it is often precisely the "improvement" that becomes the reason for the hidden privatization of city property and land, as happened with the same Starosinna Square or the Central Alley in Arcadia. Trukhanov is also charged with inaccurate declaration and embezzlement of 3,3 million USD from the Odesa budget when purchasing the building of the Krayan plant, plundering city funds during the restoration of the Russov’s House, etc.
The sunken tanker Delphi is unpleasant for the mayor. The city authorities did not solve this problem: the ship is still in the sea.
Old and new faces
Experts agree that Gennadiy Trukhanov is a tough nut to crack. His opponents would have to play hard to win.
For example, former Odesa mayor Eduard Gurvits (who served in the office in 1994-1998 and in 2005-2010) is not a competitor for Trukhanov. Back in September last year, he advocated early local elections in Ukraine and spoke of his desire to run for mayor again.
Serhiy Kivalov, who now heads the Ukrainian Maritime Party, could also compete for mayoral office. In the last parliamentary elections, Kivalov ran in the majority constituency in Odesa, but lost to the Servant of the People candidate. By the way, Kivalov has a good rating (compared to other candidates).
Interestingly, MP Mykola Tyshchenko could also take part in the competition (hypothetically at least). Earlier, he had some ambitions to become Kyiv mayor but lost the inner-party primaries. He does not confirm his intentions to run for the Odesa mayoral office and does not refute them either. Like, the last word on this issue belongs to the president.
“I don’t know yet about the new creative strategies of Volodymyr Zelensky. But he is the president, and he knows better. You, journalists, always distort everything in your favor. If it is decided on Odesa - I will work in Odesa. By the way, this is my favorite city number two. My great-grandmother lived in Moldavanka district here,” Tyshchenko notes.
But if Tyshchenko's great-grandmother lived in Moldavanka, then possible candidate from the Opposition Platform - For Life party Tetiana Plachkova herself is a native of the Odesa region. Plachkova inspects Odesa beaches and sharply criticizes the authorities for the situation with the Delfi tanker. The MP is one of those who have no reverence for the incumbent mayor Trukhanov, as well as admiration for his style of management. Recently, she reported that representatives of the Opposition Platform - For Life in the Odesa City Council handed over to the mayor an "insignia" for the largest number of loans taken by the city and for the approaching bankruptcy of Odesa.
Meanwhile, Petro Obukhov, who heads the city organization of the European Solidarity party, is called a possible candidate from this political force. Local media also report that director of the Odesa Art Museum, Oleksandr Roytburd, is going to run from the European Solidarity to the regional council. For some time, European Solidarity allegedly considered MP Oleksiy Honcharenko, the son of the former mayor of Kostusev, as a possible nominee for the office, but in the end, he decided to run in Kyiv.
Holos party has also decided on its candidate for Odesa - Natalya Delieva, the head of the Odesa branch of the political force.
Oleh Filimonov is an actor. But before opting for him, the Servant of the People party considered the candidature of MP Oleksiy Leonov. Leonov who defeated Serhiy Kivalov in a single-mandate constituency in the last parliamentary elections.
There were other alternatives too: in particular, independent MP Oleksandr Horenyuk and Ihor Vasylkovsky, but both of them, as well as Leonov, are less recognizable than Filimonov. According to some insights, Filimonov was selected and personally approved by President Zelensky. 68-year-old Filimonov is the People's Artist of Ukraine, plays in theatrical performances.
However, Filimonov still does not confirm or deny his participation in the elections. The Servant of the People party also keeps the intrigue.
But let us return to the list of candidates whose ratings are being measured by the polls. TV host Dmytro Spivak was on their list.
But the most unexpected candidate for mayor of Odesa might be Mikheil Saakashvili.
“I’m not going to go to any elections,” Saakashvili said at a meeting of the Servant of the People faction. And then he corrected himself: “And if I go, then with you only.” This phrase refers to the period when Mikho still hoped for the post of deputy prime minister, but this office was taken by some other candidate. Then Saakashvili became head of Ukraine's National Reform Council, but he misunderstood his functions a little. The former president of Georgia decided that leading reforms in Ukraine means have influence over the government.
The authorities say that Saakashvili is gradually getting bored. He would willingly participate in the elections, and at least he would compete for the Odesa mayoral office. Even though he is connected with Odesa only by a short "governorship". The authorities turn a blind eye to the fact that Saakashvili's ratings have begun to be measured in the context of the Odesa mayoral election. In fact, no one offered him to be nominated for this position.
And no matter how much Saakashvili would like to remind Gennadiy Trukhanov of all his previous grievances, without the approval "from above" of such a project, Mikho is unlikely to be promoted to the mayor on his own. However, he is an unpredictable person. So far, Odesa lives in anticipation of an election that could be brighter than anywhere else.