The capture of most of the territory of the Kherson Region by the Russian invaders after two months nevertheless led to the disclosure by the aggressor of the personalities of the occupation criminal “administration”. Of course, after the de-occupation, the work of the regional authorities and the situation with local self-government in the region will become the subjects of very serious discussions.
However, if the fake “appointment” of the fake “head” of the so-called fake and criminal “military-civilian administration” Volodymyr Saldo did not surprise anyone, the candidacy of the occupation fake “mayor” Olexander Kobets surprised and seriously.
Volodymyr Saldo is a very famous person in Kherson. From 2002 to 2012, he was elected mayor three times in a row. And at the very beginning of his career in this position, he was very popular in the city, as he contrasted sharply with previous mayors, people from the Communist Party environment with the appropriate mentality and manners.
Coming, as it was then fashionable to say, from the real sector of the economy, the balance was strikingly different from its predecessors. Sociable, democratic, modern-minded, with ambitious plans to return Kherson to its former status as one of the industrial centers of southern Ukraine.
Indeed, at the time of the first election of the Saldo, things in the city were going, though not very well, but not hopelessly. The three largest enterprises – a shipbuilding plant, a cotton mill and a plant for the production of agricultural equipment – although they were in a difficult state, faith in their salvation had not yet been lost.
It was believed that such smaller, but still significant enterprises for the city as a cannery, a shoe factory, a semiconductor plant, “Energomash”, an electromechanical plant and others, would also work normally.
At the beginning of his first term, Volodymyr Saldo spoke a lot and beautifully about attracting investments to the city. All kinds of investment forums were held in Kherson – parthetic, pompous, with eloquent panel discussions, with magnificent banquets and receptions. Delegations of officials and entrepreneurs headed by Saldo, “learning from experience”, traveled half the world – either for budget money, or at the expense of the host country.
And against the background of all this vigorous activity, the destruction of the economy of Kherson took place. After more than a decade of torment, the cotton mill, by the way, one of the largest in Europe, went into oblivion. The situation at the plant for the production of agricultural machinery did not improve: the enterprise continued to decline. At the shipyard, too, there was no smell of revival, smaller enterprises either ordered to live long, or got a difficult existence.
That is, the “Kherson economic miracle” promised by the mayor did not happen. Nevertheless, in 2006, Volodymyr Saldo was again elected mayor of the city, in the first place thanks to his remarkable talent for splurge. He also spent budgetary and sponsorship money on useless “investment forums”, and also “bred” foreign entrepreneurs to pay for business trips abroad for himself and especially close officials.
But in parallel with this, the Balance found a common language with certain “public organizations” controlled by the authorities and living off handouts: veteran unions, Afghan and Chernobyl veterans, women’s unions ets
Not deprived of manipulative abilities, Saldo quickly realized that it was not difficult to buy the support of such “public activists” and not particularly expensive: concerts, dinners and gifts for the holidays for everyone, and for managers and activists – official and unofficial financial incentives from time to time. And also – the appointment of controlled and “lured” heads of public utilities and budgetary institutions. Result: ready-made rather big staff of almost gratuitous agitators with a certain influence.
The tenure of Saldo as the mayor of Kherson was remembered for colossal corruption schemes. When budget contracts were received only by “their” firms, generously sharing ‘kickbacks” with the mayor and his associates. When city roads were repaired in such a way that in spring the asphalt came off them along with the snow, but the next repair was carried out by the same enterprises.
When the financing of the current repair of schools on the principle of “whitewash-paint” was comparable to the estimates of capital repairs. When each “free” school lunch from second-rate products cost the budget an amount that could have been a good evening in an average Kherson restaurant.
The ten-year rule of the Saldo in Kherson became a time of total embezzlement and corruption that entangled all spheres of the city’s life, a time of grandiose scandals.
Entrepreneurs close to the mayor wanted to “squeeze” the building of the Kherson chess and drafts sports school. They really liked the 19th-century building located not far from the center, the former residence of the Italian consul.
The idea failed, since the Kherson chess school was on the rise in the early 2000s, and the scandal quickly gained all-Ukrainian resonance. Several eminent athletes stood up for Kherson residents, and the city authorities had to back down.
Another scandal is connected with the square located near the Kherson bus station, popularly called “Dubky”. The territory of the green massif, which is very important for the city, Saldo wanted to give to the Donetsk company “Amstor” for the construction of a hypermarket. But local public activists, who launched a large-scale protest company, did not allow this to be done.
Thus, even imperfect Ukrainian democratic institutions helped to “keep the blow” from supporters of corruption schemes.
But the adventure, which turned into a disfigurement of the historical center of Kherson, Saldo and his subordinates managed to crank out. On Suvorov Street, the “Oscar” company built the “Suvorovsky” shopping and entertainment center. At first, the townspeople approved of the idea, as they were shown a very nice project. But then the developer, wanting to reduce the estimate, built an ugly structure that had almost nothing to do with the project. The local residents nicknamed “Suvorovsky” as “Kashchei’s Castle”. The building turned out to be so ugly and dissonant with the appearance of the historical center of the city.
The historical center of Kherson under Saldo slowly but surely fell into decay. With the ostentatious “love” of the long-term mayor for the “history of his native city”, Saldo “loved” city with a “strange love”. It was under Volodymyr Saldo that the aggressive planting of the “Russian world” began in Kherson. During each City Day, celebrated in September, a “masquerade” was certainly organized with the “founders of Kherson” – the mummers “Catherine the Second” and “His serene highness prince Potemkin” performed by local actors.
Various kinds of “scientific-practical conferences” were also held, which had nothing to do with science. During these “covens”, often organized with the support of “Rossotrudnichestvo” and the “Russkiy Mir” Foundation, the history of Kherson and Kherson Region was interpreted in an imperial way, as if there were no Antique Scythian period, no Turkic tribes, no outposts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, not two Sichs of the Zaporozhye Cossacks.
Saldo did not hide sympathy for Russia and cooperation with the Russians. He sent representative delegations from Kherson to the festival “The Great Russian Word”, which was organized in Crimea by the same “Rossotrudnichestvo”, “Russian World”, as well as the “Institute of CIS Countries” led by the odious Konstantin Zatulin. He himself willingly visited this gathering of rabid Russia’s fans.
In 2012, Volodymyr Saldo became a people’s deputy from the Party of Regions. In this capacity, he became famous in 2013 as one of those who voted for the dictatorial package of dictator “December 16 laws”. And in 2014, he “lit up” on Russian television in the talk show of the infamous Vladimir Solovyov. There he called the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity allegedly a “scenario”.
Having lost all his posts, Volodymyr Saldo tried twice to return to the chair of the mayor of the city – in 2015 and 2020. But in 2015, he refused to participate in the second round of elections allegedly in favor of another odious Kherson character – Vladislav Manger, who is accused of ordering an attack on activist Kateryna Handziuk. The terms of the likely deal were not disclosed, and in 2020, Saldo lost in the second round of elections to the current Kherson mayor, Igor Kolykhaev.
Volodymyr Saldo was a deputy of the Kherson City Council for the last two terms: from the “Our Land” (“Nash Kray”) party, and then from his own party, “Volodymyr Saldo’s Bloc”.
During this time, the ex-mayor and ex-people’s deputy managed to be involved in several other major scandals: the “muddy” story with his abduction in the Dominican Republic, where he flew for business negotiations, and stories with raider attacks on the “Khersonstroy” enterprise and the health complex “Lost World”, which is controlled by Saldo.
By the way, despite the fact that he “sits” on millions of assets, such as construction business and commercial real estate and is considered one of the richest Kherson residents, he has never been either an officially registered entrepreneur or a director of any company.
The only official position of Volodymyr Saldo is the head of the public organization of builders and investors “Stroyinvestsoyuz”. His entire business empire is written to front people.
Such a person “headed” the Russia-controlled criminal and fake “military-civilian administration” in the Kherson region. In addition to many years of experience in corruption and thieves, he has more than a dozen years of work for Russian customers as an “agent of influence”. Probably Saldo destroyed the industrial potential of the city not only on his own initiative.
It is difficult to say whether the 65-year-old Saldo burned with the desire to complete his “glorious path” in this way. Especially after the Kherson businessman Pavel Slobodchikov died on March 20, who helped Volodymyr Saldo as a “fixer” and, most likely, was one of the same dummy on whom the ex-mayor wrote down his assets.
But be that as it may, and person with such a track record as Saldo’s, inevitably find themselves in a situation where there is nowhere to go.
As for the “head” of the occupying fake and criminal “city administration” of Kherson Olexander Kobets, here the situation is different, and in some ways it is even more interesting than the situation with Saldo.
As soon as it became known who the Russian occupiers had made the fake “mayor” of Kherson under their control, the townspeople who were aware of the situation in the local political circle were pretty surprised. They decided that a well-known activist in the city, Olexander Kobets, who ran in the last elections to the City Council from the “Holos” party, suddenly became a collaborator.
But it soon became clear that the activist Kobets had left Kherson at the beginning of the Russian invasion. He did not even think about any cooperation with the rashists, and his patronymic is Dmitrievich, while the occupation “mayor” is called Olexander Yuryevich. And if Kobets-activist is not even 40 yet, then Kobets-collaborator is 63 years old.
Olexander Yuryevich Kobets, originally from Kherson, served in the KGB of the USSR, then – in the Spesian Service of Ukraine (SSU): first – in his native city, and then – to Kyiv, in the apparatus of the head office. In 2010, he retired and went into business, lived in the capital. According to information that appeared in the media, Olexander Kobets owed 80 thousand dollars to a certain private person, and the case went to court, as the lender did not receive his money within the predetermined period.
As acquaintances of the collaborator told reporters, he was last seen in Kyiv on March 7. And at the end of April, the ex-special service officer “surfaced” in Kherson. Most likely, he was recruited by Russian intelligence many years ago, perhaps he was a “sleeper” agent.
And this is precisely what can explain the stubborn reluctance of a person to appear in public space: he did not have accounts in social networks, did not like to be photographed and carefully tried not to get into the frame anywhere, even by accident, this he succeeded. Now the only photo of Olexander Kobets is a very fuzzy image, replicated by the SSU.
So, in the Kherson Region, the occupiers made a thief and a corrupted criminal their puppet, on whom, as they say, there is nowhere to put stigma. And in Kherson, a traitor with, most likely, more than 20 years of criminal experience became a puppet of the Russians.
Both Saldo and Kobets with the inglorious finals of their “dizzying careers” in which they once again confirmed that a great betrayal is only one of the links in the chain of meanness, however, this link is the last one.