Former Georgian President Saakashvili Resigns as Governor of Odessa

Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday announced his resignation as governor of Ukraine’s Black Sea region of Odessa.

Saakashvili, who has lived in self-imposed exile from Georgia since being defeated by his political rival Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2012, said he made his decision to step down after Ukrainian officials were for the first time forced to publicly declare their income.

“That was the last straw that broke my patience," said Saakashvili during his announcement.

The unprecedented declarations revealed the vast wealth of most of the ruling political class in the country, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

In his resignation speech, Saakashvili accused Ukrainian politicians of corruption and Poroshenko, personally, for supporting widespread graft operations in Ukraine’s wealthiest regions.

Saakashvili went on to accuse Poroshenko, who was once his close ally and friend, of supporting Odessa’s most powerful crime syndicates.

Odessa-native Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili as governor of the region in May 2015 in the hope that he and many of his reformist allies would engage in the same radical measures used in Georgia to eradicate corruption in the police force and state bureaucracies.

Saakashvili has frequently clashed with local politicians and Odessa’s citizens, many of whom have openly opposed his efforts to overhaul the region’s most profitable sectors, including Odessa’s huge port and customs office.

In his announcement, Saakashvili said he would continue to push for radical reform in Ukraine as a private citizen after forming an alliance with “young, honest and like-minded forces.”

Nicholas Waller

07 November 2016 18:32