Getting Arrested (twice) and Bribing Police (twice) in Odessa, Ukraine

by Johnny Ward

“Never mess about with police in other countries”. Repeat. “Never mess about with police in other countries”. You know the rule Johnny boy, but why do you never learn. Sorry mum.

ibiza bar odessa

Just before the mayhem commenced :S

Ok, so a bit of context is in order. I’m in Odessa, Ukraine – it’s beach town, and a bit of tourist hotspot, especially for Russians. The city is quite nice but only has enough clout to keep you occupied for a day or so. The catacombs outside the city are sweet, but the tour last 40 minutes, an hour max.

 

So what else is there to do? At this point I hear the dudes saying “hit the beach, hit some beers”. Yes.

 

So I headed, with my buddy, to Ibiza beach bar, in Arkadia, to grab a few late afternoon beers, and they were very very nice. The bar is pretty snazzy actually and the beers run at $6 a pop which is quite expensive by Ukrainian standards.

 

Anyways, the sun was shining, the view was good (if you know what I mean) so we stayed, had a few beers and then planned on heading up, donning our glad rags and coming back here later on. We had had a couple of beers so from now on in, it got a little bit sketchy.

corrupt police in ukraine

We left the bar, just 2 of us, walked 20 feet to the first stall and grabbed a couple of beers for the journey back to the hostel (by journey I mean 5 minute tram ride). The old bird opened the beers, I was chatting to my mate, before I even had my first sip 2 police officers come over, grab us, and drag us to the police cells. Wtf?!

 

I tried to talk my way out of it, but as the 3rd, then the 4th and then the 5th policeman came to the cells, night stick primed, I thought it may be time to talk cash.

 

These guys spoke English around the same level of my Russian. They assumed shouting “Protocol” “200 Euros” would break us, but they were wrong. The haggling ensued. I was pretty sure we were in some murky territory here, bribing officials in Eastern Europe but I thought ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, got out my fake student ID and told them I couldn’t afford that, they can take 30 Euro, and that’s all I can afford. Awkward silence. Reluctant nod. Get the f*ck out. “Oh, can we have our beers back too please?”. Yep, bonus.

 

Ok, back to the hostel, quick shower, met a new guy, drunk 1 litre of his Moldovan cognac. Back to Ibiza bar.

 

The booze was having it’s effect by now, we made it back to Arkadia, met a group of drunk Ukranians, drunk some home made wine of theirs and stumbled down the boardwalk further. Nature calls, time to pee, no toilets around. But the walkway dissects a small forest so my two friends jump into the forest and take a leak. As luck would have it, we do this 30metres from the police cells we were in 2 hours previously. Marvellous. Two police run out, my friend stumbles down the embankment oblivious to the police, dusts himself off just in time to get summoned back to the same bloody police station again. “Protocol” “100 euro”. Here we go again. Fortunately we knew one Russian number, ‘sorak’ meaning 40. So we took his “100 euro” chant, and raised him “Sorak”, but more belligerent (probably something to do with that cognac). Anyways, after the 12th repeat of Sorak, he cracked, took the money and we were off again. Phew.

 

Drama over. Or so we thought.

 

$10 into the club, having a blast, meeting peeps, smiling away. My friend, the one of the peeing and tumbling fame, wasn’t having quite enough fun apparently. The reason I know this? I look around, his shirt had been flung in the air, jeans on the ground and he was running towards the high-end swimming pool in the centre of the bar, pulling off the best bomb I’ve seen in a long time. 10s all round if you ask me, but the bouncers didn’t agree, and proceeded to manhandle us out the entrance we so eagerly waltzed through not so long ago. And here we were with a self-imposed early end to our night which started so promisingly, 2 police bribes deep, a set of wet clothing, and a harsh lesson in how not to behave when you party in Ukraine. Happy travels!

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9 thoughts on “Getting Arrested (twice) and Bribing Police (twice) in Odessa, Ukraine

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  3. Larissa

    JOHNNY, give Odessa a chance. Lived there for almost 5 months, there is definitely enough to keep you occupied for longer than a day ;) If it makes you feel any better, most of my Ukrainian friends have had similar run-ins with the police re: drinking in public but let’s be honest here, 40 Euros to get out of jail and not have anything go on your record sounds like a pretty good deal to me. At least compared to what might happen in some Western European countries where it is prohibited. The manner in which those guys go about it is never cool and not knowing Russian can indeed make it all the more intimidating, but at least you have a pretty awesome story to tell.

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    1. Johnny Post author

      hey larissa,

      haha, yeah it was a fun day and night actually, and i’d defo go back to Odessa! The thing about drinking in public, in most other countries ud get a slap on the wrist, they’d appreciate you’re a tourist and let u go! Not bring u to the bloody cells! aaaaagh

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