Perhaps the appointment of ex-president of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili to the post of the chairman of Odessa regional state administration (ORSA) has recently become the most famous news. That’s how his position is called, not the Governor, as many people call him mistakenly. (на русском)
It won’t be a lie to say that many people in Ukraine (ordinary electors) waited for the appointment of Saakashvili to an important post. What post it would be, nobody could say clearly.
There are several reasons, but the most weighty one is the distrust of actual government.
As from the first Maidan in 2004 and Euromaidan in 2014, Mikhail Saakashvili supported Ukraine and new government’s aspiration for fundamental change and rapprochment with the West. Being the president of Georgia, he carried out effective reforms which are nowadays considered to be «Georgian wonder», taking into account the fact that the Ukrainians distrust the local authorities, appointment of «unemployed» Saakashvili to any post was approved by many Ukrainians.
Perhaps, appointment to the post of the head of the national Anti-Corruption Bureau was the most expected variant. Nevertheless… The expectations didn’t come true. Saakashvili refuted all the rumours about that.
Only a week ago Mikhail Saakashvili was rarely mentioned in mass media, not counting his participation in «vyshyvanka march». Then there was such a SENSATION! Mikhail Saakashvili will be the head of Odessa RSA!
The society divided as always into two camps. Some people were rejoicing, others thought it was crazy. But both sides were asking the same question. WHY? Why would ex-president of Georgia be interested in any region in Ukraine? Okay, not any region, but one of the perspective ones, but it is still not the ex-president business! There was even a joke in the Internet that it’s a brilliant plan of Saakashvili. «If you want to be the head of Odessa region, first you have to become the President of Georgia». This news also was noticed in Russia. The Prime Minister of Russia reacted on Poroshenko’s «trick» with humour alluding to the fact that both ex-presidents are wanted in their homelands being accused in criminal offenses.
In order to try to answer this question, let us first make it clear, what «inheritance» Mikhail Saakashvili gets from his former colleague Igor Palitsa (Kolomoyskiy’s man).
First of all Odesskaya oblast is considered to be a difficult region in Ukraine. A big number of pro-Russian citizens live here, they cherish the hatred against the new government (and those who support it), especially after the tragic events on 2nd May. In addition there is also a boundary with the unacknowledged repuplic of Transnistria (Pridnestrovie) which is under control of Moscow. Enormous contraband seizures in custom houses and in the seaport, also corruption which embraced all possible spheres of life from maternity hospital to graveyard. Local authorities and the militia are also full of corruption. These are perhaps the most important problems Mikhail Saakashvili has to solve. To solve quickly and effectively, otherwise he runs the risks to lose the vote of confidence he was given. I recommend to read a receipt of invigoration and consequences from Gal Vasadze (link).
Perhaps, all of this could be solved in a proper way, as Mikhail Saakashvili gave a good account of himself before, but there is one catch. The head of Odessa RSA must be supported by the President Poroshenko, the prime minister and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Only and no other way!
He has no absolute power as in Georgia to break the system established by decades. For that he has to control courts, the militia, custom houses, prosecutor’s offices etc. Now he is completely dependent. Perhaps it’s a final fight not so much for Saakashvili as for Ukraine. It’s a sort of the last experiment. If Saakashvili doesn’t manage with it – who will?!
Nevertheless, Saakashvili will find what to do in the future (not only in Ukraine or in politics), even if he fails as the leader of Odessa region.
What will there be, if his work brings visible and notable results?
I don’t think he’ll revel in local glory within a separate region. I doubt that such a person will rest on his laurels being only the head of “Odessa Singapore” (that is what common citizens expect). I’m sure he is motivated by much bigger ambitions. In the case he succeeds or even if there is a faint resemblense of success, Mikhail will be trying to conquer the chair of the prime minister of Ukraine. He will have more chances than his rivals! Including Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the current prime minister, it seems he got completely bogged down in endless scandals with subordinates and in huge criticism of his sluggish reforms.
Having the Ukrainian passport would allow Mikhail Saakashvili to be a candidate for the post of the President of Ukraine only in 5 years, as it is mentioned in Ukrainian legislation. In other words, he won’t be able to take part in a competition with Poroshenko in the election 2019, on the other hand we remember very well the Maidan 2014. If Saakashvili shows himself as a brilliant politician, people of Ukraine could demand to reconsider this “formality” (it is entirely possible, by means of the third Maidan), and then – the New President of Ukraine Mikhail Saakashvili! Ave Caesar-Mikhail!