Odessa governor, Mikheil Saakashvili, has twice found himself involved in scandal within the past few weeks.
Firstly, the mayor caused controversy by criticising the Ukrainian government in an interview with the Guardian. Secondly, his assistant has recently been under investigation.
In his Guardian interview, Saakashvili said that new Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman was not capable of carrying out necessary reforms. Saakashvili also suggested that the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko was a populist.
“For a long time, Poroshenko has been very flexible. If you were a reformer, he spoke the reform language. If you were someone old-fashioned, he said OK, we can find a way to deal with you. Now he’s brought in a government which has not got any vision of reforms at all,” the governor said.
Saakashvili also said that the new government is “a bunch of mediocre people”. He assured on his Facebook page that the journalist clearly misrepresented what he said. “A lot of my quotations were listed wrong and I hope that editors will correct obvious mistakes.”
He later assured critics on his Facebook page the what he had said in the Guardian interview had been misrepresented. “A lot of my quotations were listed wrong and I hope that editors will correct obvious mistakes.”
“I have serious objections about the way the Cabinet of Minister was formed (…), but I will never call this government as “a bunch of mediocre people”,” wrote the mayor of Odessa.
In response, Guardian reporter, Shaun Walker hit back at Saakashvili on Twitter.
Despite his FB denial, Saakashvili did indeed call new govt “a bunch of mediocre people”; just checked my audio. https://t.co/sPAIbSpfkB
— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) May 26, 2016
Another scandal unfolded when Saakashvili’s adviser, ex-Consul General of Georgia Teimuraz Nishnianidze came under investigation. Investigations from the Prosecutor General and the Moscow Department of the SBU were conducted in light of several criminal proceedings. Furthermore, it was stated that the diplomats spent around 20 million hryvnias on branded clothing. For now, PU is interested in the activities of Nishnianidze’s Fund “for the benefit of Odessa”, which supposedly accumulates the money of many business leaders in Odessa.
“The above Fund came under the attention of law enforcement due to the fact that the ex-Consul General of Georgia in Ukraine Taimuraz Nishnianidze received a VAT refund in the amount of about UAH 20 million. During the searches were seized enough information which will be used by investigators of SBU and GPU in the above-mentioned case and also in cases of illegal actions of officials at the present time”, stated in the message Department.
Ukraine’s prosecutor, General Lutsenko said that investigations were being carried out on requests of people’s deputies concerning the verification of the activities of a number of charitable funds, including the “Fund For the Benefit of Odessa”.
Lutsenko said that inspection of the activities of a number of charitable foundations in Ukraine will be held in the near future.
Kononenko Lydia Olegovna, freelance journalist from Ukraine. Was born in 1995 in Odessa. Worked as a news editor and writer in online media. Follow her on Twitter.