Saakashvili's appointment fraught with split in Ukrainian ruling elite - Russian analyst

By appointing former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili head of the Odessa regional administration, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is making a political mistake that could lead to a serious split in the Ukrainian establishment, says Russian political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky.

 "In supporting Saakashvili by the prospects of such a significant appointment, Poroshenko is making a political mistake. The Ukrainian president's position has become a target for criticism among the nationalistic circles already now. As concerns Saakashvili, Poroshenko can count on support only from those who are ultra-loyal to the president. But these people are far from making up a majority. The decision on Saakashvili is essentially not a coalition-based one but is splitting the Ukrainian establishment," Pavlovsky said in an interview with Interfax on Saturday.

He disagreed with suggestions by some Ukrainian political analysts that Saakashvili's appointment could be a springboard for him to become prime minister of Ukraine in the future.

"This is impossible. You can't imagine a political coalition, be it openly pro-Western, nationalistic, or centrist, not to mention leftwing, that would offer Saakashvili the role as its leader. For policymakers, this would mean to considerably undermine their positions," he said.

Any analysis would come to the conclusion that Saakashvili's appointment is unsafe in terms of Ukraine's national interests, Pavlovsky said. "Judging by what he states himself, Saakashvili doesn't see his political future in Ukraine. He sees it in Georgia and is waiting for a moment convenient for changing power in Tbilisi so as to return there and occupy the key position. And it is simply dangerous to engage such a person in governing another country. It can be presumed that Saakashvili is loyal to Poroshenko to a certain extent. But strategically he can't be loyal to Ukraine more than to Georgia," he said.

Meanwhile Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has described former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili's appointment as governor of Odessa region in Ukraine as a "circus show."

"Saakashvili head of Odessa region. The circus show is going on. Poor Ukraine," Medvedev wrote on Twitter.

On May 30 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has introduced former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili as the new head of the Odessa regional administration to the leading regional officials.

"In the multiethnic Odessa region, it is necessary to find proper words for everyone," Poroshenko said addressing Saakashvili at the inauguration ceremony on Saturday, repeating these words in several languages, including the Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, and Bulgarian.

Poroshenko said Saakashvili's key duties will include combat against corruption, transparency in the operation of the customs and fiscal services, and protection of the people's rights and democracy.

Poroshenko also thanked outgoing Odessa Governor Igor Palytsya, who has served in the office since May 6, 2014, for stabilizing the situation in the region.


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