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29.12.2014
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“Our city is not being blown up and shaken by natives of Odessa”

Odessan Jews discuss explosions and acts of provocation, moods and premonitions.

Inna Naidis, editor of “Migdal Times” magazine

About a month ago, there were reports on the Internet that soon the situation in Odessa would start to be shaken up. This was not a revelation, as waves of “shakes” constantly come after a relative calm. This wave began with the explosion at the “Patriot” store, and then at the volunteer center. Again, there were news reports about cars being set on fire. Then another four explosions followed.

All this takes place in a situation of enormous lines of depositors outside several banks that have collapsed, prices rising by several times, power cuts to buildings and streetlights, and the conflict between community workers and the authorities in the battle for sold land and against illegal building.

It is rather difficult for average city dwellers to find their bearings in this situation, as there is no trust – primarily towards state institutions, such as the police, the security forces, the city and Oblast administration. From time to time we see that “our police protects us”, i.e. it does not openly encourage disturbances and even prevents them. But it is surprising that the “titushki” who appear “at objects” obey the police unquestioningly, and in “columns” leave the scene of clashes under the quiet admonition of police that “you were told not to interfere”.

None of the “terrorist attacks” have been investigated – not by the security forces or the police. Either these bodies are working unprofessionally, and then their leadership should be changed (or – improbably – resign themselves), or the destabilization of the situation is in their interests, and the interest of the “puppet masters”. The puppet masters – the main ones – are even known to Odessa children, but they calmly walk around the city or (in other scenarios) send their emissaries from the Crimea and Russia.

Alexander Babich described on Facebook how he and his friends recently drove up to the Directorate of Interior Affairs building, and under the indifference gaze of the police on duty did the following: “We opened the trunk, slung grenade launchers over our shoulders, and took two bags with pieces of mine shells sticking out of them. The officers calmly looked on. We slammed the trunk and began walking towards the building, expecting to hear shouts behind us. There was silence!”

And nevertheless! Odessa is not shaking! The streets are filled with cars, people are doing their New Year shopping, and the theaters are full.

But most importantly, for many months in the city active volunteer work has been going on, which is mainly carried out by fragile young women. They help refugees and orphans from Donbass and Lugansk, buy equipment, food and medicine for ATO soldiers, for the frontline and the hospitals, repair boats and equip training and dormitory buildings for naval cadets. All of this is done with money that is brought or sent by Odessans from various places. This is a “people’s war” in the sense that we were taught about in Soviet schools, but now, it really is being waged with money from the people – who are becoming poorer every day.

I think that when this nightmare is over, sensible Odessans will find the words to explain why they took a pro-Ukrainian or pro-Russian position. Because they are not the ones who are blowing up and shaking our city – not people for whom the city is native. Today round tables are gathering, where people who hold different positions can express their views, fears and concerns. Today, the young people who have finally snapped out of their indifference are arguing about the future of Odessa. You may not agree with their views on architecture, but they have started going to museums, and excursions, and part of the money goes towards aid for ATO soldiers.

 

Boleslav Kapulkin, press-secretary of the Odessan Jewish community.

It seems to me that the city is reacting rather feebly, even on city news sites this isn’t on the top news. Perhaps this is because the terrorist attacks were minor, you might say thuggish, along the lines of “throwing a firecracker at passersby and running away”, and thank G-d, no one was injured. Or perhaps this is because Odessans are simply not afraid of terrorist attacks, like Israelis (so far?) At least, no one looks suspiciously at bags that have been abandoned, and no one discusses the incidents in public transport…

It is hard to guess the consequences of these incidents, and events may develop in three ways.
One – the instigators will be caught and everything will be over.

Two – they won’t be caught, and the incidents will continue with the same regularity and on the same scale – G-d forbid that anyone is injured. It seems that these explosions were not so much a message to the city and the world, as for reports to the One who Needs to Know: as a way of saying: the underground movement is working, so send money now to continue the fight.

Usually groups that make terrorist attacks to achieve their goals either try to have a large number of victims, or they warn of the explosive device beforehand, not forgetting to name their dear selves as the organizers. But here…

And the third, and most terrible possibility, is that the organizers will get angry about the lack of attention, and will decide to organize a major explosion. But G-d forbid…

We can only put out hopes in the relaxed and lackadaisical nature of Odessa. They couldn’t even blow up the Tsar here, back in the day…

 

Oleg Gubar, historian of Odessa, JewishNews columnist
(Before the New Year)

I’ve been asked about the mood of Odessans. I can’t and won’t answer for everyone, but I do have my own impressions, as I’m constantly in the thick of events.

I’m no longer a young man, to put it mildly, and I can say that Odessa has never been reduced to such a low and brazen level. At least not in my memory. Even during cholera, city residents were not just optimistic, they were even ironically cheerful. Now a much more dangerous epidemic has come, and old-timers have the constant feeling that they are living in an occupied city.

The events of the 2nd of May did not so much frighten the Odessans, but rather discouraged and disgraced them. Since then, some kind of monstrous games continue to be played out around the city. Odessa is living in a situation of total intimidation and humiliation. One act of provocation follows another. None of the so-called terrorist attacks ascribed to the special services of other countries or local “partisans” has achieved or could achieve their goals, as they were intentionally simulated.

Some murky business is going on, which is designed to make Odessans feel lost, afraid, distrustful of one another, apathetic and depressed, while certain people can consolidate their ambitious plans for power and division of property.

But Odessa remains Odessa – a peaceful, tolerant, staunch, resilient and heroic city. One very characteristic detail: supporting each other in a difficult year, Odessans do not give in to provocations, or dance to the pipe of the imposters or step on the throat of their own song, they don’t allow noble anger to rise up, and don’t get involved in the reckless undertakings that they are constantly pushed towards. Can things continue like this for much longer? That is the question. The leadership and ideological idiotism that grows from the very top does not inspire optimism. Even supporters of Maidan feel, or are starting to feel, bitter disappointment, and vindicate their position more out of inertia, or romantic solidarity with fellow-thinkers.

In preparing for New Year, Odessa mistrustfully waits for changes, and is prepared to be happy about any positive trifle. The city is always open for constructive cooperation.

Give Odessans a smile worth a kopeck, and you’ll get a smile worth a ruble in return. Don’t treat Odessa badly, it is compassionate, kind, patient and smiling, but if it’s pushed to extremes, it can stand up for itself. Odessa is capable of faithfully loving and trusting. Return its affection.

 

Boris Khersonsky, poet, essayist, translator, JewishNews columnist

Snow in Odessa. An explosion in Odessa…

This time a terrorist was killed who was carrying a powerful bomb (equivalent of 1 kg of trotyl), we don’t know where. And we won’t find out, because the bomb went off before he got there.
The terrorist was killed. The glass in nearby buildings smashed… So many people were left in the cold without windows, on a day off, during a snowfall which in itself is a catastrophe for Odessa.

What worries me is that in 1976, and then in 1982, when the KGB interrogated me, they knew everything. Who gave books to whom, what kind, who said what to their wives, who had an abortion from whom 10 years ago… It was important not to give testimony, not to allow them to get this secret information out in the open. But they knew everything…

Why is it that today, with our fantastic technological progress, they don’t know anything and can’t do anything? I’m afraid that I know the answer to this question.

 

REFERENCE:

On 3 December a bag exploded in the center of Odessa that was thrown at the “Patriot” store, which specializes in the sale of goods with national symbols. At the moment of the explosion, there was one employee in the store, who was not injured.

On 23 December on Zhukovsky Street by the office of the Public Security Board, organized by the local Euromaidan, an unknown perpetrator threw an package of explosives under a parked car.

On 24 December, in the district of Zastava-1 housing estate, there was a powerful explosion on the railway line, leaving a hole about one meter in diameter. No one was injured.

On 27 December, there was another explosion on Segedskaya Street. A man was killed who was carrying an explosive device to an unknown destination.

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