News You Really Need To See: “Ex-President of Georgia to Lead Ukraine Region”

“Ex-President of Georgia to Lead Ukraine Region”

The New York Times, May 31, 2015, p.A8

“President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine on Saturday appointed the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, as governor of the Odessa region, turning to a longtime nemesis of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for help governing an area coveted by pro-Russian separatists. … Mr. Saakashvili replaces Ihor Palytsia, who was appointed governor in May 2014 after more than 40 people, most of them pro-Russian separatists, died in a fire in Odessa during clashes with pro-Western street demonstrators.  Mr. Palytsia is an ally of Igor V. Kolomoisky, a billionaire and former governor of Dnipropetrovsk.  Mr. Kolomoisky was dismissed from his own governor’s position after clashing with Mr. Poroshenko this year as the president began a ‘deoligarchization’ campaign aimed at reducing the power and influence of Ukraine’s wealthiest businessmen.  The appointment of Mr. Saakashvili was immediately interpreted in Ukraine as a message to Mr. Kolomoisky as well as a jab at Mr. Putin.  Mr. Saakashvili and Mr. Putin have an animosity that dates to before the brief war fought between Georgia and Russia in 2008. … It is increasingly clear that there is insufficient domestic capacity for implementing wide-scale changes, and the Ukrainian public’s general willingness to accept the appointment of foreigners to high-level positions underscores the deep lack of trust in any government after nearly a quarter-century of mismanagement and corruption. … A number of former senior officials in Mr. Saakshvili’s government now occupy senior posts in Ukraine, and have been granted Ukrainian citizenship, including the health minister, a deputy prosecutor general and a deputy interior minister.  As president of Georgia from January 2004 to November 2013, Mr. Saakashvili led an aggressive effort to eliminate corruption and bureaucracy from Georgia’s post-Soviet government.  He won wide acclaim in the West for achieving dramatic successes, but he was also heavily criticized at home for heavy-handedness, including allegations of rights abuses.”

Quickie analysis:  It’s certainly outside-the-box thinking.

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