Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili rebounds in Ukraine

The former president of Georgia has been appointed head of the executive committee of the National Reform Council of Ukraine. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko

Text by: Régis Genté Follow

Mikheïl Saakashvili, who was the president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013 is a real political animal. Like rebounding even after the worst desert crossings. On May 7, he was appointed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky head of the executive committee of the National Reform Council.


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From our correspondent in the region,

The business is not trivial. There are few politicians who bounce back in a country other than their own. Mikheil Saakashvili , 52, actually already has a history in Ukraine. He speaks the language, after having done his higher education there, at the turn of the years 1980-1990.

Transitory Governor of the Odessa Region

When he had to leave his country, Georgia, he wanted to continue the fight of his life: to fight against Russia, of Vladimir Putin in particular, who wants a right of scrutiny on the political course of his country, of Ukraine , and many other former Soviet republics.

And there, when Ukraine had just entered into conflict with Russia after the "Maidan revolution", the then president, Petro Poroshenko, proposed to him to become governor of the region of Odessa, very sensitive.

The adventure lasted only 18 months between May 2015 and November 2016. He was even then withdrawn his Ukrainian nationality, granted in 2015. The impulsive Saakashvili, who did not always take the time to study the complexity of Ukraine, was quick to denounce compromises with the oligarchy or patterns of corruption.

Appointment as a pledge of goodwill

His appointment as head of the National Reform Council ultimately has only relative importance in itself. It is an advisory board only. But it seems that his appointment is a way for the President of Ukraine to give pledges of goodwill to Western partners, Americans in mind.

Volodymyr Zelensky is in a difficult patch . First on the front lines of relations with Russia with which he is trying to end the conflict in the Donbass, which earned him the suspicion of playing the game of Moscow. Then, on that of relations with the Ukrainian oligarchs, which led him to remove from his government and key positions of reformers, close to the West.

For Zelensky, appointing Saakashvili to the head of this Council, he who has an impressive record in terms of state reform in Georgia, largely positive, it is a way of giving the West pawns which do not cost very Dear.

Demonized in his country

The official Georgian reactions have in any case been very negative, because the political animal that is Saakashvili remains a major player on the Georgian scene. Even if he has not set foot in his country for more than six years.

Officially, the problem is that he is charged with abuse of power in particular. But the case probably goes further. The Georgian government, which is completely controlled by the oligarch Bidzina Ivanichvili , follows the line imposed by the latter. Since 2012, it has consisted of "demonizing" Saakashvili for internal reasons, notably because without admitting it he is pursuing his policy in many ways. And for external reasons, Mr. Ivanichvili trying to "normalize" relations with Russia, which is easier if the sworn enemy of Mr. Putin, to whom he waged war in 2008, is constantly hunted down.

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  • Ukraine
  • Mikheil Saakashvili
  • Georgia
  • Volodymyr Zelensky
  • Bidzina Ivanichvili

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