News / Europe

Future of Odessa, Ukraine's 'Jewel of the Black Sea,' Uncertain

In Ukraine, Odessa Violence Threatens 'Jewel of the Black Sea'i
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 09, 2014 11:02 PM
The violence between pro-Kyiv and pro-Russian groups in Odessa last week killed more than 40 people -- and sent shock waves across Ukraine and beyond. The city, founded by Catherine the Great in 1794, has long been a cosmopolitan port that has attracted tourists and traders from across the world. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.

In Ukraine, Odessa Violence Threatens 'Jewel of the Black Sea'

Henry Ridgwell
— The violence between pro-Kyiv and pro-Russian groups in Odessa last week killed over 40 people and sent shockwaves across Ukraine and beyond. The city founded by Catherine the Great in 1794 has long been a cosmopolitan port attracting tourists and traders from across the world.
 
Odessa, a city marked by grand imperial boulevards, conjures romantic images. Ukraine's balmy Black Sea port is a melting pot, with diverse cultures and ethnic groups that have long coexisted, usually peacefully.

Residents say that is why the recent bloodshed inflicted such a wound on the city and the entire country.

Over 40 people died during street battles on May 2 that climaxed in a spectacular fire. Surrounded by angry supporters of the Ukrainian government, pro-Russian demonstrators inside the trade union building could not or would not come out. The smoke and flames killed dozens of people.

Many Odessa residents, like this woman, want their normal lives back.

"We just want peace," she said. "We want just to live our peaceful life, like it was before. When we could walk with our children in the street, and our children were happy."

Orysia Lutsevych of the London-based policy institute Chatham House recalls how Odessa grew to become the fourth largest city in Czarist Russia.

"Odessa was always at that time a city of ports, trade, but also a city of seaside resorts," said Lutsevych.

It also was the scene of a workers' uprising in 1905, immortalized in the film Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein and known as a triumph of both cinematic art and propaganda.
 
Residents are proud of their heritage. Alexander Roytburd, a painter and art gallery director, says Odessa belongs to the world.

"Odessa was a planned city built quickly by efficient managers, and it has become a vehicle for international trade and business," said Roytburd.

The city remains a free port, whose traders can ship goods freely across the globe.

Authorities in Kyiv fear Russia could repeat its takeover of Crimea and annex the entire Black Sea coast, including Odessa, leaving Ukraine landlocked, reduced in size and weakened. Moscow denies there isw such a plan, but Orysia Lutsevych points out that Odessa has great strategic importance.

"Not just for commercial trade, but also [by] using Odessa port for military dispatches. From the security and strategic importance, now that Kyiv authorities are not friendly to Russia, the Kremlin feels that they have to control the southern corridor [through Ukraine], also to supply support to [the Moldovan breakaway region of] Transnistria," she said.

Odessa is considered one of the jewels of Eastern Europe, but that is imperiled by the tension and political struggle now under way.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid