After a four-month break, Odessa’s city council got back down to business on Friday. While it may not have been the end of the world that day – as the Mayans had predicted – it certainly must have seemed like all hell had broken loose when dozens of angry citizens, with a wide variety of grievances, tried to barge into Odessa’s city hall to disrupt the councillors’ meeting.
The protesters, as seen in several videos (see below), clashed with security guards; both sides sprayed each other with tear gas. The protesters were also sprayed with a water cannon. According to local reports, police were present but did nothing, perhaps because the regional police chief was mistakenly sprayed with cold water
by the security guards. Other sources claim they refrained from helping in revenge for the mayor’s recent decision to contract with private security firms.
Protesters trying to barge into Odessa's city hall on Friday.
The protesters were quite the motley crew. The two largest groups were comprised of nationalists and merchants. The nationalists from the Svoboda party, who led the charge, were angered by the council's decision to change the name of a street, currently named after a Ukrainian independence fighter, to that of a 19th century Odessan businessman. Despite the protest, the council went ahead and confirmed this decision. The merchants, meanwhile, were distraught over the recent privatization of the city’s two major markets, the Privoz and Sedmoy Kilometr markets.
Security blasting the protesters with a water cannon.
Ukraine is currently undergoing a vast privatisation drive
, with plans to sell hundreds of state-own companies to private firms. Opposition parties have voiced worries
that these sales will not be done in a transparent manner.
Security trying to keep protesters from getting through the doors of city hall.