The Saakashvili saga — folly and disrespect for the rule of law



Article by: Vitaly Portnikov

The entire history of the arrival of the former Georgian president in Ukraine up to his deportation from our country is a chronicle of folly and disrespect for the rule of  law. Mikheil Saakashvili turned up here already at the end of his political career. Efforts were made to convince Ukrainians about his reformist achievements. The question about why a successful reformer had to leave his country and hide from Georgian justice has always remained in the shadows.

Saakashvili always had a simple answer to this question — it was because a “pro-Russian oligarch” came to power in Georgia. As to the question why, after the era of reforms, Georgians elected this oligarch’s party, and the courts, the law enforcement agencies, and the media turned out not to be independent has also remained unanswered. Because this answer would have been unpleasant both for Saakashvili and his former friend Petro Poroshenko.

Saakashvili was appointed head of the Odesa Oblast Administration not because he was an outstanding reformer but because President Poroshenko decided to use the reformer myth to weaken the influence of his then rival, the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.  Kolomoisky, whose energy helped preserve stability in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and prevent its occupation by Russia, could have assumed that his new “kingdom” included the neighboring regions as well. Primarily, because the Odesa Oblast was governed by his colleague Ihor Palytsia.

The Saakashvili decision became one of the main methods for weakening Kolomoisky and ousting him from Ukrainian politics. And Saakashvili himself was transformed into a politician no longer of Georgian or even Odesite caliber but a Ukrainian one. This is what was successfully used by Poroshenko in his fight with another rival for power — Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk.

Poroshenko and Saakashvili succeeded here as well, but at the cost of discrediting the authorities, by disillusioning the population on reforms, and by substituting priorities — from the need for the radical renewal of a poor, backward country to the fight against corruption, which has become a new religion of the masses.

However, Poroshenko’s success did not mean success for Saakashvili. Poroshenko strengthened his power and Saakashvili was left with no power. Because under conditions of a parliamentary-presidential republic, it is impossible to impose any appointments. And also because the president no longer needed him.

And then Saakashvili turned his propaganda weaponry against his former ally. He had every reason to be offended — he had been used and discarded and  he was not selective about the means after such an offense.

Poroshenko was not selective about the means either. He deprived Saakashvili of citizenship and accused him of violating the law and concealing information. However, the criminal prosecution of the former president of Georgia was not a secret when Saakashvili was receiving his passport. Simply Saakashvili was needed then. So nobody read his applications.

After the revocation  of citizenship, the struggle between the former allies passed into the “soap opera” phase. But this spectacle is disastrous for Ukrainian statehood because it undermines confidence in it. The penetration of the border, the freeing of Saakashvili by his followers after his detention in Kyiv — all this solidified the image of Ukraine as a “fragile state” among the country’s residents and in the surrounding world . And Saakashvili himself recently began to refer to Ukraine as a “failed state.” In fact, we witnessed a clear reluctance by the security forces to participate in the president’s conflict with his former friend. The Ukrainian state and society once again appeared not so much weak as divided. And it is this disunity that is helping our enemies.

In his struggle with Poroshenko,  Saakashvili increasingly resembles the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.  Berezovsky also contributed to the rise to power and the growth of the influence of his friend Vladimir Putin, convinced that he would become an important figure in the new regime. And when he turned out to be not needed by the new president, he devoted his life to fighting him.


But Poroshenko in his fight with Saakashvili also behaves as Putin did with Berezovsky. He used his friend to strengthen his power and when his friend was no longer needed, he used the entire power of the state machinery against his former aide. Simply the Ukrainian machine is weaker than the Russian one. But this is for now.

Because the entire history with Saakashvili has demonstrated the absence, both in government and society, of an elementary sense of political hygiene and aversion to populism. The end justifies the means — both for politicians and ordinary citizens.

Saakashvili cannot win over Ukraine simply because he is viewed as a foreigner by most of the country’s residents. And this is why he can rely only on the support of his own followers and retired politicians. But as soon as a strong home-grown populist appears with the same energy and charisma, he will take over all of Ukraine without much effort.

And then it will turn out that Saakashvili was right that  you and I are living in a “failed state.” 

Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Source: Espreso TV

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  1. Avatar laker48 says:

    Ukraine isn’t a failed state, as it isn’t now and hasn’t been a state for centuries. It’s still a former Soviet republic in disguise masquerading as an independent and sovereign state, where all old Soviet cotteries are well-preserved, live and kicking, and where people have to rely on each other to make it through another day in their lives. Saakashvili has only made it clearly visible to the rest of the world. Another outbreak of social unrests in Ukraine is just around the corner and its eternal enemy RuSSia seems to succeed again in its destabilisation

    1. Avatar MichaelA says:

      what a load of tosh
      ukraine has a huge problem with post-soviet corruption but that in no way makes it not a state
      it is just as much a state as russia britain congo or poland

      1. Avatar laker48 says:

        Yers, it’s a theoretical state in the eyes of international law, but it’s in fact a corrupt kleptocracy according to any modern standards, unless you apply the standards of Angola, Chad, Mozambique or Zimbabwe, or some other former African colony.

        1. Avatar MichaelA says:

          no its not a theoretical state but a real state
          just like russia britain congo or poland to name a few

          1. Avatar laker48 says:

            Well, technically you’re right, but in what league you want Ukraine to play? Just for starters, I’m bringing your attention to one of senator McCain’s statements that “RuSSia is a gas station masquerading as a country”. What’s your take at that? What standards are you bringing into this polemic? Where’s Ukraine on this scale of democratic and transparency values?

            Just do some soul searching before making another attempt of placing Ukraine among the family of modern European, democratic and law-abiding states! Let’s wait until the 21st of this month, when Transparency International releases its 2017 global transparency index! I’m quite pessimistic about Ukraine’s ranking!

            Such a small EU and NATO member state as Hungary may derail all Ukraine’s attempts to improve its relations with the EU and NATO and block its efforts to progress its integration with these institutions. Doesn’t this raise a red flag for you?

            Poland is still patient, but there’s no way it will yield on the issue of the Bandera-inspired and Lebed/Shukhevych-implemented genocide of between 120 and 200 thousand of Jews, Poles and other ethnic minorities in the Volhynia and other parts of western Ukraine in the years 1939-1945.

          2. Avatar MichaelA says:

            yes you do need to do some soul searching instead of trying to shift the goalposts with each of your posts
            you asserted that ukraine is not a state which is plainly absurd
            and when challenged you cant justify it
            ukraine is just as much a state as russia britain congo or poland to name a few
            the fact that some are more or less corrupt than others does not change the fact that they are all states
            in reality as well as in name

          3. Avatar laker48 says:

            So what? Ukraine is a failed state and the last achievements of the 2013-2014 Maidan revolution of dignity are being squandered by the Poroshenko kleptocracy. It has taken less than four years to throw Ukraine backi into the abyss of Byzantine corruption of epic proportions. We’ll see the 2017 Transparency International transparency ranking on the 21st of this month. This nation has fallen into a kind of suicidal ammoc. A huge and spectacular victory of Dwarfstan.

          4. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            Russia is owned lock, stock and barrel by the Russian Mafia and has been a failed state since the abdication of Nicholas II.

          5. Avatar laker48 says:

            This doesn’t make Ukraine’s situation any better. Ukraine is a young state that will have yet to find its national identity and this won’t be either easy or quick. I’m really curious of its transparency ranking in 2017 to be released tomorrow.

          6. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            I’m not claiming it does make it better for Ukraine. But, Ukraine is not a failed state, although Russia is. The entire edifice is resting on Putin. The Ukrainian state is resting on the oligarchs. It’s more stable, but not by much more.

            Transparency rankings really mean little. They’ve scored Russia higher than Ukraine for the last few years, but Putinist Russia is about as opaque as you can get without going full Stalinist.

          7. Avatar MichaelA says:

            the ukrainian oligarchs could disappear tomorrow and volunteers would take over immediately at all levels
            they wouldn’t sit around waiting for orders
            whereas if putin and his oligarchs disappeared russians would just sit docile while their country disintegrated

          8. Avatar laker48 says:

            Disintegration of RuSSia isn’t in the US’s best interest, at least not a rapid one. The Yanks will likely keep the Dwarf busy in Syria and SE Ukraine, what he simply cannot afford even in a short run, while working on the Asian and Caucasian peripheries of Dwarfstan by sponsoring separatist movements where the distance from Moscow is long but from China short.

            The Yanks are now focused mainly on Asia and the Pacific Rim, hence the rapid deployment of US troops in Central and Eastern Europe, and efforts to reduce influence of Germany and RuSSia there by driving the US oil and gas supplied Three Seas Initiative wedge between these two imperial powers. This setup will free up more US military power for its Asian-Pacific operations.

            BTW, oligarchs won’t disappear from Ukraine anytime soon, and the volunteers have neither money nor experience in state or corporate governance. Ukraine will likely enter next decade with the Donbas conflict live and kicking. Over two decades of misgovernance, grand theft and larceny cannot and will not be fixed overnight. The real power struggle in Ukraine hasn’t even started.

          9. Avatar MichaelA says:

            even if that were all correct it has nothing to do with my post
            my point was that there is a big difference between russia and ukraine
            because if the oligarchs in ukraine disappeared tomorrow volunteers at all levels (civil as well as military) would immediately fill whatever gaps they left

          10. Avatar laker48 says:

            One may always wish. 🙂

          11. Avatar MichaelA says:

            yet to find its national identity – is that meant to be a serious comment?

          12. Avatar MichaelA says:

            yet to find its national identity – is that meant to be a serious comment?

          13. Avatar MichaelA says:

            just repeating something like a mantra does not make it so
            how is ukraine a failed state?
            you never say because you do not have any factual basis for saying so
            it may not be a nice state but it is very much a state
            just like britain congo poland russia etc

          14. Avatar laker48 says:

            I know Ukraine first hand and was there many times between the mid 1960s and last October. Nobody has to explain to me what a failed state is. BTW, the failed Ukraine will likely hobble in one piece through its hybrid was with dying a slow and painful death RuSSia, courtesy of the US, but it doesn’t change the fact that it will stay a failed, mafia state it’s been for long decades now. I was supporting Ukraine for the first three years after the Maidan revolution of dignity, but I moved behind the sideline after having seen one kleptocracy replacing the previous ones and making the West believe that the country is being reformed.

          15. Avatar MichaelA says:

            but you havent answered my question
            how is ukraine a failed state?
            you cant come up with a single reason
            you dont like ukraine because it clashes with your idea of polish imperialism – we all get that
            but my question is simply why is ukraine a failed state
            you cant answer

          16. Avatar MichaelA says:

            but you havent answered my question
            how is ukraine a failed state?
            you cant come up with a single reason
            you dont like ukraine because it clashes with your idea of polish imperialism – we all get that
            but my question is simply why is ukraine a failed state
            you cant answer

  2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    A souffle cannot rise twice.

    1. Avatar MichaelA says:

      of course
      hence why churchill never led britain during wwii

      1. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

        Saakashvili is a chancer.

  3. Avatar Tony says:

    Corruption perception index 2017 isnt out yet? I wouldn’t be surprised if Ukraine made very little improvement, because Poroshenko works hard to preserve the old system while pretending to do otherwise.

    1. Avatar laker48 says:

      Transparency International will publish it on the 21st this month.

      1. Avatar Quartermaster says:

        Russia and Ukraine have run very close to each other as corrupt states. The only major difference is the owner. Russia is a mafia state and Ukraine is run by Oligarchs.

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          Right! They both ranked ex aequo 131st on the Transparency International’s transparency scale for 2016. RuSSia moved down from the 127th and Ukraine up from 144th in 2013. I’m afraid that Ukraine has moved down after Saakashvili and his Georgian anti-corruption team were driven out of Ukraine.

          1. Avatar Quartermaster says:

            That may well be. However, I don’t give much credibility to any ranking relative to Russia. Putinist Russia is nearly as opaque as Stalinist Russia. No one can really rate Russia on transparency as Putin is doing his best to engage in the same sort of disinformation campaign as the KGB did under the Soviet Union.

          2. Avatar MichaelA says:

            why is the transparency international rating important?
            i mean it is important for foreigners dealing with a place but why will ukraine or russia care?

          3. Avatar laker48 says:

            If you know what FDI is, you’ll understand why they should care. FDI in the US economy is four to five times larger, depending on the financial year, than the US defence budget.

          4. Avatar MichaelA says:

            but what you have stated is a reason why the usa would care
            but it is not a reason why russia would care
            nor even many members of the elite in ukraine
            which is what my post referred to

          5. Avatar laker48 says:

            Yes, but these old and new rankings hit the RuSSians and especially Ukrainians directly. RuSSia and Ukraine were the most corrupt states in Europe in 2017. A dubious distinction.

          6. Avatar MichaelA says:

            you still havent said why the russian or ukrainian elites will care

          7. Avatar laker48 says:

            Their fortunes will eventually go down the drain. We live in a global village. RuSSia and, if things don’t improve Ukraine, cannot live in isolation that will become inevitable because nobody wants to do business with crooks.

          8. Avatar laker48 says:

            Their fortunes will eventually go down the drain. We live in a global village. RuSSia and, if things don’t improve Ukraine, cannot live in isolation that will become inevitable because nobody wants to do business with crooks.

          9. Avatar MichaelA says:

            you still havent said why the russian or ukrainian elites will care