Tbilisi, DFWatch – Former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, is to be appointed as a governor of Odessa Oblast in southern Ukraine.
His candidacy has been proposed by the Ukrainian government to the President Petro Poroshenko.
Valery Chalyi, the presidents foreign policy advisor and deputy head of his administration, said Friday evening in the Ukrainian TV Inter online political program, that he assesses Saakashvili’s odds of being appointed as 99 percent.
“If you ask me not as a member of the (president) administration but as a political analyst… I would say with the likelihood of 99 percent the President will sign (the document of Saakashvili appointment),” Chalyi said.
Earlier on Friday on his facebook page, the Minister of Ecology and National Resources of Ukraine, Igor Shevchenko, posted about Saakashvili’s appointment.
“One more meritocrat appointed to the leading position in Ukraine! Mikheil Saakashvili is a governor of Odessa Oblast,” Shevchenko posted.
However, later he corrected his previous post stating that final decision is up to president Poroshenko.
Ukrainian media speculates that Petro Poroshenko may present Saakashvili as Odessa governor on Saturday.
Odessa, capital of the oblast, is Ukraine’s third largest city with a population over 1 million. Although over 60 percent of its inhabitants identify themselves as Ukrainians, pro-Russian sentiment are quite high in the city as well in the oblast elsewhere. The city is mostly Russophone, i.e. Russian is a common language here.
In the first half of 2014, Odessa witnessed continuing struggle between Maidan supporters and pro-Russian groups, culminating in May 2, when a fire and clashes in and around the Trade Union house claimed up to 50 lives, mostly of pro-Russian supporters.
Since then Kyev managed to hold Odessa under control and prevented events similar in Donetsk and Luhansk. However, political situation in the city is still volatile.
According to Ukrainian media, current governor of Odessa Oblast, businessman Igor Palitsa, is a confidant and a close ally of Igor Kolomoysky, a billionaire and former governor of industrial Dnepropetrovsk Oblast.
Kolomoysky, the second richest man in Ukraine, was dismissed by the president in March, after a bitter showdown with the government over the control of UkrTransNafta, a state-owned oil pipeline operator.
Since February, Saakashvili is a head of the International Advisory Council on Reforms in Ukraine. In August, 2014, a Georgian court ordered his pre-trial detention in absentia over alleged crimes during his tenure.