Fulbright Conference in Odesa

You can read my friend Katia’s impression of Odessa here.

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Odesa is one of the annoying words, like Kyiv, that forces you to announce your Russian vs. Ukainian allegiance, even if you’re writing in English.

The Ukrainian-English spellings are Odesa and Kyiv. The Russian-English spellings are Odessa and Kiev.

Did you know that Odessa was founded as a free city with no taxes and very little government for the first fifty years of its existence?

As I understand it, the tsar wanted a buffer between the Turks and . . . . I guess . . . Ukrainians, whom he considered “Little Russians.” Don’t get me started on that. So he built a harbor and invited people from all over Europe to settle Odesa, especially Greeks, as many Greeks hated Turks.

Odesa was a tax-free boom town settled by voluntary immigrants, much like many cities in the American West. When Mark Twain visited, he said it reminded him of an American city. I agree. It’s a very unique place.

The tsar didn’t begin taxing Odessa until the Crimean War, which called his attention to this more remote part of his empire.

Here are a whole bunch of pictures, mostly with captions:

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