9th May, Victory Day. Usually the streets in Odessa are awash with lilacs and tulips, with flags and medals, with people out living and enjoying and laughing and celebrating. Odessans love a celebration.
But yesterday, in shock at the deaths and violence here last week, scared by constant rumours of a repeat provocation by far-right or far-left or paid thugs and dupes of whoever it is trying to ruin this country, Odessans stayed home.
There was no violence, no deaths. But in the deserted town centre, a young Odessan said “I look at the empty streets and I realise the provocation has already happened. They’ve achieved what they wanted. Everyone is terrified, everyone is looking at each other with suspicion. This is our biggest celebration, today is really important to people – and it’s been taken away from us. Look – today our town is dead.”