Georgian Speaker Urges Ukrainian MPs not to Vote for Saakashvili as Vice-PM

On April 24, Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze addressed a letter to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Razumkov, raising concerns over the potential appointment of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili – a political adversary to Talakvadze’s ruling Georgian Dream party – as Vice Premier of Ukraine.

Talakvadze acknowledged the “strategic partnership” and “special bonds” between the two friendly nations, while stressing, that future bilateral cooperation might be “shadowed” if Saakashvili – convicted in absentia by Georgian courts – were to be tapped for a high-ranking job in Ukraine.

“[Saakashvili] bears responsibility for systemic failures concerning human rights, misuse of power, freedom of media, interference into the property rights and jeopardizing free elections [under his watch],” Talakvadze wrote.

The Georgian Parliament Speaker admonished Ukrainian MPs to take “these” circumstances into consideration before voting for Saakashvili’s candidacy.

Prospects of Saakashvili’s political comeback in another state have unsettled ruling party politicians in Georgia.

“Ukrainian people are our brotherly nation, and political conjuncture cannot affect our partnership in the long run,” stated Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. However, he noted, appointing of a convict guilty of committing “grave crimes” as a deputy Prime Minister was “absolutely inadmissible.”

Gakharia also entertained the possibility of recalling Georgian Ambassador from Kyiv – “at least for consultations” – in case of Saakashvili’s confirmation as the deputy Prime Minister.

Mikheil Saakashvili exiled from Georgia in 2013 after finishing his second presidential term for fear of alleged political persecution by incumbent Georgian Dream party. In 2015, he was appointed by Petro Poroshenko, then-President of Ukraine, as a governor of Odessa region.

Soon Saakashvili fell out with Poroshenko, and resigned from the office. He threw in his lot with the opposition founding “Movement of New Forces.” In 2017 Poroshenko issued a decree stripping Saakashvili of citizenship, forcing him to flee the second country. In 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky, a newly-elected President, restored Saakashvili’s citizenship allowing him to return.

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