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Saakashvili quits post in Ukraine

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, November 9
Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has served as Odessa Governor in Ukraine since May 2015, quit the post on November 7, announcing a “new stage of the fight to free Ukraine from corruption”.

Saakashvili, who is wanted for several charges in Georgia and was deprived of his Georgian citizenship, said he had “different expectations of Ukraine”, when he was appointed as Governor by his university friend, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.

“When I came here [in Odessa], I wanted to see the same kind of fast development as we had [the United National Movement Gov’t in Georgia under Saakashvili] in Batumi. However, we only managed to develop Batumi after we freed Tbilisi [Georgia’s capital] from corruption,” Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili, who served as Georgia’s third president from 2004-2007 and again from 2008-2013, vowed the same could happen in Odessa only if those politicians who “backed criminals” would be removed from the highest state positions.

The former President added “he won’t stop until Ukraine is completely free from corruption”.

Shortly before Saakashvili’s announcement, an ex-Georgian police official serving as Odessa's police chief, Gia Lortkipanidze, also left his position.

David Sakvarelidze, another former official of Georgia and the ex-Deputy Chief Prosecutor of Ukraine, stated Saakashvili will not leave Ukraine and will continue to fight.

He added Saakashvili would announce his plans in Ukraine in the near future.

An opposition United National Movement member, Akaki Bobokhidze, said Saakashvili had hoped that “Poroshenko would respond to the challenges facing him, but in vain”.

Fellow UNM member Nugzar Tsiklauri said “Saakashvili was becoming a political figure for the whole of Ukraine and he would likely participate in the country’s Parliamentary Elections”.

A member of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party, Gia Zhorzholiani said the Government of Ukraine at last “guessed who Saakashvili really was and took a step to free the country from him”.

Zhorzholiani congratulated Ukraine’s Government for distancing itself from Saakashvili and said the former President would be detained if he entered Georgia.

Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili believes it was unlikely that Saakashvili quit the post on his own will.

Tsiskarishvili says Saakashvili’s actions and his active involvement in the UNM actions in Georgia, especially prior to the last month’s Parliamentary Elections, pushed Poroshenko to react.

“Saakashvili appeared out of play,” Tsiskarishvili said.

Fellow analyst Nika Chitadze says Saakashvili may launch opposition activities, join some opposition party or establish a new political body.

Chitadze says it was less likely that Saakashvili will be extradited to Georgia, as this could damage Porishenko’s international image.

“Saakashvili has resigned and turned on his patrons. He has gone full Trotsky calling for permanent revolution,” Lincoln Mitchel, an American expert working on Georgian issues wrote on his Twitter page.