“Darth Vader” (who preferred not to give his real name) lives in Odessa.
It all began in September when Odessa’s mayor and the city council decided to break up 46 acres of public recreational land near Otrada, one of the city’s most popular beaches. It’s a place where people go to walk, jog or bike. Building on this site has always been forbidden, but one day our mayor, Aleksey Kostusyev, decided to redistribute it for private use. He gave it away for free to five people – all of whom he has close ties to. It stinks of corruption. So I decided I was going to get my 10 acres too.
I know that Kostusyev has gone over to the Dark Side because no normal mayor would ever rob his people of their land in such a way. It’s not the first time that something like this has happened, though. Back in July, there was another activist who fought the city’s plans to multiply parking costs by eight.
In order for the local government to pass such a piece of legislature, it has to be approved during a public hearing. Only a handful of people ever go to these meetings, all of whom have close ties to the mayor’s office. So everything on the mayor’s agenda always gets approved.
So this guy who fought the parking hikes, Mikhail Shmushkovich, managed to get a number of people to turn up at the hearing to vote against it. A second hearing was held one month after the proposal failed, and the people shot it down again. The city was losing tons of money because they couldn’t get their bill passed, so the mayor held a third hearing. On his way to the meeting, Shmushkovich was attacked near his house and beaten over the head with an iron bar. He wound up with a broken skull.
If there are more problems in our city in the future, I will be paying another visit to city hall – this time with my ‘Star Wars’ friends”.