Georgia’s Ex-President Saakashvili Is Back in Ukraine

After nearly two years following expulsion, the ex-president of Georgia and former Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Region Mikheil Saakashvili returned to Kiev on May 29.

Saakashvili’s decision came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky restored Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship on May 26, which was deprived from him in July 2017.

Upon his arrival at the Borisapol Airport, Saakashvli’s supporters met him with a small concert and chants of "Misha, Misha."

“I have not come to Ukraine for revenge or destruction: I came here to build,” Saakashvili told the media.

He said his arrival in Ukraine was very emotional as he had spent 12 years of his life in that country. The former Governor of Odessa thanked President Zelensky for restoring his citizenship and named him a strong and independent politician.

Saakashvili also noted he would do his best to bring new politicians to Ukrainian politics.

“The only country where I am refused entry is Georgia, and I will soon go back there too,” Saakashvili said, noting that when he was expelled from Ukraine two years ago, he did not even take his belongings, because he believed he would be back.

The ex-President of Georgia also highlighted that there have as yet been no talks about his possible appointment to any posts in Ukraine.

“I am not in negotiations about any positions,” he told the crowd standing outside the airport.

However, Kyivpost reports that some are floating his name as a possible candidate for Prosecutor General to replace Yuriy Lutsenko, who has not prosecuted anybody of significance for corruption. Lutsenko claimed he would leave his post after the parliamentary elections scheduled for July 21.

Saakashvili, who has a political party in Ukraine, the Movement of New Forces, also claimed he personally wouldn’t participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

However, his ally David Sakvarelidze, a former Ukrainian deputy prosecutor general who now leads the Movement of New Forces, earlier told Ukrainian news website Apostrophe that the party would run for parliament on July 21.

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of the Georgian Parliament, said he advises the Ukrainian authorities not to appoint Mikheil Saakashvili to any position, but said that if it happens, this should not affect relations between the two countries.

“You know how it worked out last time,” he said. “The result will be the same when it comes to the appointment of an avanturist to any position.”

Saakashvili served as the third president of Georgia in 2004-2013 and the Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa in 2015-2016. He supported Ukraine's Euromaidan movement and the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. On 30 May 2015, then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed him as Governor of Odessa Oblast. He was also granted Ukrainian citizenship but due to restrictions on dual nationality under Georgian law, was stripped of his Georgian citizenship.

On 7 November 2016, Saakashvili resigned as Governor, blaming Po­roshenko for enabling corruption in Odessa and in Ukraine overall. Four days later, he announced the creation of a new political movement.

On 26 July 2017, Saakashvili, at the time staying in the US, was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko, which was reinstated by Zelensky a few days ago.

Saakashvili cannot return to Georgia due to the various charges against him.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Kyivpost

30 May 2019 20:40