Odessa anti-fascist leader: Saakashvili appointment targets Transnistria

By Dmitry Rodionov and Alexander Sivov


On May 30, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed former Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili governor of the Odessa region. Earlier, Poroshenko signed a decree granting Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship.

According to Poroshenko, Saakashvili “not in word but in deed proved that he can not only demonstrate good knowledge and give birth to good, creative ideas, but also knows how to implement them, and changed the whole country.” The former Georgian leader carried out reforms “in the direction of transparency, effectiveness of anti-corruption, attractiveness for foreign investors, establishment of fair trials, protection of human rights, and democracy,” said Poroshenko, adding that the same activity is expected of him at the head of the Odessa region. …

Odessans greet the appointment of notorious tie-chewer
and war criminal Mikhail Saakashvili.
Photo: Borotba
According to Odessa Regional Council Deputy Alexey Albu, many view the appointment of Saakashvili as a bad joke, but there’s little funny about it.

Alexey Albu: There are several versions of the appointment of Saakashvili. The most likely, in my opinion, is the need to influence the processes associated with Transnistria. Since the Odessa region is very closely linked to the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR), the region must be led by a “Varyag” [outsider], able to take unpopular measures, fully controlled by the Americans and not enmeshed (yet) in regional corruption schemes. Saakashvili is suited for such a role.

Another version is that they are preparing for changes in Ukraine’s central government. That is, when [Ukrainian President Peter] Poroshenko is no longer needed and is removed, all the shortcomings of the current government can be attributed to him: the failure of the war in the South-East, the ruined economy and other issues. Therefore, to fully discredit Poroshenko’s government, personnel decisions are taken which make him a laughing stock, not only of the whole country, but also neighboring countries.

The third version says that it is a struggle to limit [oligarch Igor] Kolomoisky’s influence. In order to prevent him from taking any action to “regain control of the area” and fighting against the new governor, it can’t just be one of Poroshenko’s men, but someone with the full backing of the United States’ “system.” Accordingly, the appointment ties Kolomoisky’s hands and gives the opportunity for things to function properly. But Saakashvili, of course, will not.

Free Press: What do you expect for Odessa residents?

AA: It’s hard to predict, because life in Odessa is affected by all Ukrainian developments — the collapse of the economy, inflation, rising prices and tariffs, mass impoverishment, the sale of land … These processes are not decided by the governor, so from Saakashvili we can expect only populist statements.

FP: Will Saakashvili repeat his Ossetian adventure and open a second front on the border with Transnistria?

AA: That is exactly what I had in mind when discussing the first version of his appointment. They need a person who is able to make unpopular decisions. The question is whether the command will be given. To do this, Saakashvili will need to strengthen his vertical power, changing the old staff to new, more faithful ones.

FP: Should we expect that he will appoint people he brought with him, and Odessa citizens will be removed from the control of their city?

AA: Probably yes. But not by Georgian citizens so much as Ukrainians, especially from the western and central regions.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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