Before starting: I want to mention a glitch in the Comments section on the sidebar. For some reason, some comments are not appearing this morning. I can see them (from my WordPress Administrator dashboard), but don’t see them in the sidebar. For those affected (if you don’t see your recent comment), I apologize for the inconvenience, and I try not to get too paranoid about such glitches, which are probably just a normal computer thing.
Anyhow, today concluding my review of this piece, about the establishment of a new Russian-controlled administration in the Kherson Oblast. Where we left off: the reporters were talking to Larisa Shesler and obtaining her opinions about what is going on. Larisa feels that it would be a waste of time going through the motions of forming a Kherson Peoples Republic, having a referendum, etc. She just wants to jump to the stage of incorporating Kherson into the Russian Federation; and, if I had to bet money, I would also bet that is what will happen. Larisa also has her opinions about the new cadres. Recall that Vladimir Saldo has been appointed the overall regional leader (=Governor) of Kherson Oblast. Saldo was born in 1956 in the neighboring Nikolaev Oblast. In 1978 he graduated from the Mining Institute of Krivoy Rog. His specialty is civil construction engineering, with a Candidate’s degree in Economics. Saldo is a veteran politician who headed the Kherson municipality between 2002-2012. He also maintains ties with business and served as Chairman of the Association of Builders and Investors. On April 27, this capable official accepted (perhaps reluctantly) the job of running Kherson Oblast. I think it goes without saying that the Ukrainian side will put him on their hitlist and attempt to end his life violently, if they can. I say this, because people should not underestimate the guts of people like him, taking on these roles.
The reporters spoke to a local resident named Vladislav Khablenko, an ordinary man who was surprisingly eloquent and had the following to say: “Saldo is one of those typical Party of Regions functionaries. I think [the Russians] probably spent the past two months trying to convince him to take the job, and he probably kept refusing. Representatives kept driving up to [his home], I live in the same neighborhood as him, and I saw this with my own eyes. His main advantage is his huge experience. He was the Mayor of Kherson for over 10 years. His second advantage: He has a complete and full logistical knowledge of the work of the entire region. He should be considered a hard-nosed economic guy, albeit not without nuances. In terms of his political rating, he is the most popular figure among the pro-Russian segment of the population. At the most recent elections, and before the ascent of Igor Kolykhaev, [Saldo] was the leader of the race, and I was sure he was going to win; but Kolykhaev really wanted to win and spent enormous resources ensuring his own victory. The pro-Maidan crowd never liked [Saldo]. Therefore he had no other place to go. But, like every person, he has his negative sides. Among which, in my opinion, were the way he acted in 2004 [Orange color-coded revolution] and 2014 [Maidan revolution]. In both cases [he acted weakly] and was unable to marshal the protest potential of the region.”
Next the reporters spoke to a man named Alexei Zhuravko, an ex-Deputy of the Supreme Rada (Parliament): “Regardless whatever happens with the cadre issues, it is obvious that Kherson will never again return under the control of Kiev. Especially not the current official Kiev that we see before us now. Of course, theoretically, should there be a change of power in Kiev, then it is conceivable it could maintain its more or less current boundaries, just without Crimea and Donbass. However, Zelensky and his team are doing everything within their power to split up the Ukraine into smaller pieces. If this process continues, then Kherson, Nikolaev, Odessa, and a series of other regions will return to their historical roots — to Russia.”
When asked about the Saldo team and the changes in Kherson, Zhuravko shrugs: “The [new] government is still forming. Right now we only have the top level in place. There is a lot of work to come, forming the new Oblast-level soviet, the local-level administrations, the corpus of parliamentarians, and so on. The situation is complicated by the fact that many people were forced to flee from the region, due to the war. If the correct steps are taken in the formation of the new government and the setting up of the ruble zone, then I would not expect any further difficulties to arise. And all of this should not really take much longer than 3-4 weeks, he adds optimistically.
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