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Saakashvili and Ukraine: one year together

Photo from volynnews.com

The news about the appointment of the ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili as the governor of the Odessa region and getting him Ukrainian citizenship has become one of the most resonant in the late spring of last year.

May 31, the new governor took office, receiving much wider powers than any other governor in Ukraine. This fact was outlined in the most powerful world’s media like Der SpiegelThe Guardian, The Washington Post. Now it’s time to sum up the year of his governorship.

Former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili smiles as he arrived at the opposition headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. As thousands of anti-government protesters kept their vigil in Ukraine's capital Saturday, officials sought to reduce their anger with assurances that Russian and Ukrainian presidents didn't discuss Ukraine joining a Russian-led customs union at a meeting this week. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili smiles as he arrived at the opposition headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. As thousands of anti-government protesters kept their vigil in Ukraine’s capital Saturday, officials sought to reduce their anger with assurances that Russian and Ukrainian presidents didn’t discuss Ukraine joining a Russian-led customs union at a meeting this week. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Mikhail Saakashvili made a lot of loud statements and featured in a number of scandals. TheOdessaTimes will try to focus on the projects* and promises of the governor. Which of them have been implemented and how well?

Among the mass of promises, made by Saakashvili,  it is easy to pick three main areas:

  • the reconstruction of the international highway Odessa-Reni;
  • the opening of the modern center of administrative services (Citizen Service Centre) similar to the House of Justice in Georgia;
  • creating the new customs terminal (the Open Customs Area) according to the Georgian sample.

Also Saakashvili blamed the current government of Georgia in stealing his project regarding the port in Anaklia. 

The Silk Way from Odesa to China: Georgia decided to build a deep-water port for $2.5 billion

After a year none of the projects is completed.

Can the populism of Saakashvili be the only reason for failure? It is well-known that the parliament for a long time did not support the initiative of the Open customs because of the different groups of influence (including Odessa groups).

Poroshenko and Groisman discussed hot topics with Saakashvili

The bad relationship with the mayor of Odessa Gennadiy Trukhanov (who figured in a set of scandals as well) and his team also affected the projects.

Investigation: Truhanov has over 20 offshore companies, Russian citizenship

It was planned that the Citizen Service Centre, which functioned for some time, as well as Open customs space will become self-sustaining. However, it became clear that the Parliament is not ready to support the idea of financing the wage boards of organizations by revenue from services provided there.

Also, there are opinions that the new leadership of the Odessa customs in the face of very young Julia Marushevska is not able to implement all the planned targets. And it, again, faces with opposition from the SSU (Security Service of Ukraine), fiscal services and other departments, which are controlled by the old groups of influence.

In Saakashvili’s team had a number of complaints and protests. E.g. one of them was the result of Maria Gaidar‘s dismissal, prosecutor Alexander Modebadze (and the further “Prosecutorial Maidan”).

Fight against Odessa political crew: MPs call for the head of Odessa police chief

Despite all the fights, the following initiatives have been implemented successfully:

In addition, Saakashvili is credited with the appearance of the new police, however, this opinion is erroneous. The decision was made and approved prior to his appointment to the governor post.

Another undoubted advantage that Odessa received from Saakashvili’s governorship is good PR in media, moreover foreign media. Saakashvili visited many world forums, offering to invest in Odessa region and presenting it as a cultural, tourism, logistics and industrial potencial. He told much about the initiated reforms and fight against corruption.

Many foreign journalists from such media like Der SpiegelThe Guardian, The Washington Post attended the Odessa region and confessed that their main interest was the figure of Saakashvili.

The area has received special attention from the United States’ government as well. The US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield signed a separate agreement between the State Department and the Odessa State Administration for the provision of advice to the Odessa region in the reform of customs and administrative services.

Now Saakashvili and his team face the “dark times”. Recent searches in the Odessa Regional State Administration prove that. 

Searches in the Odessa Regional State Administration: Saakashvili’s ally suspected of fraud

But what is Saakashvili’s main project? All his activity including presence on world forums, the Anticorruption set of forums organized in Ukraine, creation of his own party prove that he is planning to get rather powerful post on the national level and his big ambitions for the future parlimentary elections.

Party of Saakashvilli Goes to Parliament