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

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 couple of days. The catacombs outside the city are sweet, but the tour last 40 minutes, an hour max. So what else is there to do? Copy the rest of the Russian tourists, and drink. Probably too much.

So I headed, with my buddy, to Ibiza beach bar, in Arkadia, to grab a few late afternoon beers, they were going down a treat. The bar is pretty snazzy actually and the beers run at $6 a pop which is quite expensive by Ukrainian standards. But well worth it considering the gorgeous surroundings.

Ibiza Beach Bar, Odessa

Ibiza Beach Bar, Odessa

Anyways, the sun was shining, the view was good, beautiful people dotted around casually, so we stayed and mingled, drunk a few more cocktails and planned on heading home, dressing up a little and coming back here for a proper party later that night.

corrupt police in ukraine

We left the bar mid afternoon, just my friend and myself. We casually strolled 20 feet to the first food stall, conveniently located right at the bars entrance, we grabbed a couple of ice cold beers for the journey back to the hotel. The old lady opened the beers before we could even pay, and she hands them over to us. Waiting for my change, chatting to Ian, before I even had my first sip 2 police officers come over, grab us aggressively, hands behind our backs, beer spilling on the floor, and drag us to the nearby police cells. This isn’t quite how I had planned my afternoon.

 

I tried to talk my way out of the situation, but as the 3rd, then the 4th and then the 5th policeman came storming into our cell, nightstick primed, I thought perhaps ‘less talk, more money’ could be a better solution.

 

These guys spoke English around the same level of my Russian, effectively nothing. They assumed shouting “Protocol” “Official” “Very bad” “illegal” “200 Euros” would break us down quickly, but they were wrong. The haggling ensued. I was pretty sure we were in some murky territory here, bribing officials in Eastern Europe isn’t the greatest plan but I thought ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. I got out my fake student ID and told them I couldn’t afford that, I was a broke student and 200 euro is madness. Take 30 Euro, that’s all I can afford. Awkward silence. We are escorted back to the corner of the cell while the police discussed it. More haggling, more sob stories about being broke travelers, students visiting eastern europe it’s too much etc etc. More chatting in the corner. This went on for about an hour and a half. I was getting a little worried actually,  night in the Ukrainian cells wasn’t on my bucket list. Then, out of nowhere, a reluctant nod. And outstretched hand. A hand written ‘receipt’ on a post it note for our official fine. Get the f*ck out. They even handed us our beers back as we left!

 

Ok, back to the hostel, quick shower, met another traveler en route home, drunk 1 litre of his Moldovan cognac. Back to Ibiza bar, or that was the plan…

The alchohol was pumping through our veins now, and that cognac was potent stuff. We made it back to the Arkadia area, met a group of drunk Ukrainians hanging around the bus station, on their insistence, we joined them in downing some of their horrific home made wine, and on we went down the boardwalk further.

Nature calls, time to pee, no toilets around. But the walkway, en route back to Ibiza Bar, dissects a small forest so my two friends jump into the forest and take a leak. As luck would have it, we do this 30 metres from the police cells we were in 2 hours previously. Marvellous. Two police hear the commotion, charge out, my friend is startled and stumbles down the embankment, picks himself up and  dusts himself off just in time to get arrested AGAIN, back to the same bloody police station again. “Protocol” “200 euro”. Here we go again. Different police offices, same deal.

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.

ibiza bar odessa arcadia

Drama over. Or so we thought.

$10 into the club, having a blast, meeting cool people, dancing the night 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 throw 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. What a night. Happy travels!

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

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  2. Luuk

    I dont recognize this story, every time I get caught by the police in Ukraine I refuse to pay, and after 20 minutes they release me with a smile!

    Reply
  3. jason

    Re events in Odessa Ukraine my friend was assaulted twice by police there a few days ago he is an EU national they took his cell phone and $2000 in cash . He was held at gun point for around ten minutes during this incident the three cops involved then drove off in a white 4×4

    Reply
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  6. 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.

    Reply
    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

      Reply
  7. [email protected]

    I am wary of visiting places where you can bribe the police. Which is why I read your blog. 🙂

    Reply

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