Russian media have been circulating a statement allegedly made by Odesa Oblast Governor Mikheil Saakashvili on Odesa’s imminent secession from Ukraine, reports Radio Svoboda, September 8.
Over the past several days Russian TV channels and online media have been reporting on the supposed “statement” by Odesa Oblast Governor Mikheil Saakashvili about the possible secession of Odesa from Ukraine. However, the original source for these statements is not provided, and the quote that is cited is from a speech in which Saakashvili speaks of tensions in the Ukrainian Bessarabia and not in Odesa.
The “news” appeared on the website of the Russian Zvezda (Star) TV channel and also the Russian REN-TV channel. This “quote” about “Odesa’s secession” has also been actively circulated in social networks and posted on several sites, including Russkaya Vesna (Russian Spring), Antifashist, PolitRussia and Ukraina.ru.
The various media sources refer to the RosInfo portal, which has posted materials titled “Prophet Saakashvili predicts Odesa’s exit from Ukraine.”
However, RosInfo does not provide source information but posts only the following quote:
“Ukraine’s Bessarabia region is quite unstable,” Saakashvili said. “The dangerous political and social situation can be exploited here. A repetition of the Donbas situation is taking place here. The Ukrainian government is not well represented and there are practically no Ukrainian media or TV broadcasts. The debate is dominated by Russia and the separatists. Odesa is sending National Guard groups and several other units here, but it would be impossible to call them government representatives,” he acknowledged.
The same quote appears on the video broadcast report by channel 112 on Mikheil Saakashvili’s presentation at an expanded meeting of the governors of the oblast regional state administrations.
In this speech Saakashvili is not speaking about the possible secession of Odesa but is commenting only on the situation in the southern part of the Odesa Oblast — on the territory of Bessarabia.
Saakashvili had made similar statements about the tense social and political situation in this region in other interviews, including on channel 112 and News One.
Saakashvili believes that in the Ukrainian part of Bessarabia in the southern Odesa Oblast many problems have accumulated that are being exploited by anti-Ukrainian forces in an effort to create separatist attitudes in the region.
When asked to comment on the reports by Russian media regarding Odesa’s secession from Ukraine, members of Saakashvili’s team said the statements were so absurd they did not require any denials.