Georgian ex-President Saakashvili to head Ukraine’s National Reforms Council

  • Ex-Georgian President and Odesa region governor Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to journalists on April 24. Maksym Polishchuk/UNIAN, 8 May 2020 - 00:26, Tbilisi,Georgia

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a decree appointing Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili as the chair of the executive committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council.

Zelensky hoped Saakashvili will ‘’give impetus’ to the Council and help make ‘important changes' in Ukraine.

Initially, Saakashvili was offered the post of vice PM of Ukraine for reforms. However, his candidacy has been later withdrawn.

The possibility of appointing Saakashvili in Ukrainian government had immediately caused dissatisfaction in Georgia.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, President Salome Zurabishvili and Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze had named Saakashvili's criminal charges as the reasons for their concern. 

In brief about Mikheil Saakashvili:

  • Mikheil Saakashvili served as Georgia’s third president from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2008 to 2013
  • He is accused of the violent dispersal of anti-government mass protests on November 7, 2007; unlawful raiding of Imedi television company by riot police and the illegal takeover of property owned by late media tycoon Badri (Arkadi) Patarkatsishvili
  • In 2014 Saakashvili was officially charged for his role in several crimes in Georgia however by the time his case went through court he was already in Ukraine
  • Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili as the Odessa Governor in May 2015, but in November 2016 Saakashvili quit the post, accusing Poroshenko of corruption
  • Prior to his appointment as the Governor of Odessa, Saakashvili received Ukrainian citizenship, therefore, his Georgian citizenship was automatically revoked
  • In July 2017 Poroshenko annuled Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship and since then the latter had had no citizenship
  • However, Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky restored him the Ukrainian citizenship in May 2019
  • Georgia has several times requested Saakashvili’s extradition from Ukraine, but in vain.