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Ukraine picks Georgia's ex-president as Odessa governor

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has been nominated by Ukraine’s cabinet ministers as the governor of the country’s strategic Odessa region.

Ukrainian presidential spokesman Syvatoslav Tsegolko announced on Friday that a meeting with Saakashvili was set to take place “today” and that “based on the results of this meeting, [Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko] will make the decision,” Russian media outlets reported citing Tsegolko’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Odesa regional administration's Press Secretary Mykola Pokrovsky further wrote on his Facebook page that the decision was already made and that it will be announced at 2:30 pm local time on Saturday.

"Yes, it is Saakashvili," Pokrovsky was quoted as stating by Russia’s Interfax news agency. 

Moreover, deputy head of Poroshenko’s administration Valery Chaly also told the Ukraine National News (UNN) that Saakashvili will become Odessa’s governor with “99 percent probability,” while emphasizing that he was speaking as an “analyst,” not presidential representative.

This is while Saakashvili has been serving as the head of Ukraine’s Consultative International Council of Reforms since February. Hawkish US Republican Senator John McCain was also asked to serve in the council by the Western-backed Ukrainian president, but he chose to decline the offer.

Poroshenko’s appointment of Several foreigners to senior posts in the Ukrainian government has prompted concerns at home. He, however, has called the moves as part of his efforts to find “innovative solutions in the government” due to the “extraordinary challenges facing Ukraine.”  

The former Georgian leader has already been granted Ukrainian citizenship, which makes him legally eligible for the post, according to local press reports.

Saakashvili energetically supported Ukraine’s Euromaida movement and the 2014 Ukrainian Western-sponsored revolt. He is wanted by Georgia's new government on multiple criminal charges, which he denies as politically motivated.

On 2 October 2012, Saakashvili admitted his party's defeat in Georgia’s legislative polls against the Georgian Dream coalition led by the tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili.  He was barred by the constitution of Georgia from seeking a third term in the 2013 presidential election that was won by the Georgian Dream’s candidate Giorgi Margvelashvili.

Shortly after the election, Saakashvili fled Georgia. He was then hired by Tufts University in the US as lecturer and senior statesman in December 2013.


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