TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian government is not planning to send a note of protest to Ukraine after former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was appointed governor of Odessa.
Saakashvili, or “Misha” as he is called at home, lost government power in an election in 2012 and is currently wanted in his home country as the new coalition government proceeds with a number of trials against former officials.
When the former president, who was about to begin a life as a lecturer at Tufts University in New York, was appointed as head of a reform council in Kiev’s post-revolution government, Tbilisi asked for his extradition.
Until now, Saakashvili has been unable to return to his home country; the closest he has been was a meeting with supporters in September last year at the border point with Turkey at Sarpi.
But with his new status as governor of Odessa, and newly acquired Ukrainian citizenship, there is speculation that he might be able to return to Georgia – on a diplomatic passport. The ex-president remains leader of the National Movement and is planning a political comeback, although his party is struggling to maintain cohesion and recently lost four of its most prominent members.
Government spokespersons in Tbilisi refuse to say whether the ex-president returning on a Ukrainian diplomatic passport is a realistic option.
Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili said it is the sovereign right of Ukraine’s government to decide its staff policy.
Saakashvili is charged in connection with four criminal investigations: embezzlement of state money, the murder of Sandro Girgvliani in 2006, dispersal of an anti-government rally on November 7, 2007, and breaking into and shutting down Imedi TV, later also appropriating it; and last ordering the beating of parliamentarian Valeri Gelashvili in 2005.