Mikheil Saakashvili resigned this Monday from his post as governor of the Black Sea region of Odessa. Saakashvili was president of Georgia and was appointed to an office of the Ukrainian government to give an example of transparency as well as clean government. But after a short while in office, the former Georgian president gave up the fight. He left accusing Ukraine’s president Petro O. Poroshenko of supporting corruption. Since his appointment in May 2015, Mikheil Saakashvili has tried to root out graft. But, he says, the central government in Kiev stood in his way.
Mikheil Saakashvili Attempted to Fight Corruption
The reasons for which Mikheil Saakashvili is leaving are corruption and political obstructionism. As he announced his resignation today, the governor of the Black Sea region of Odessa complained about how the central government obstructed his efforts at fighting corruption in Odessa. He accused Kiev of being controlled by corrupt interests.
“The president personally supports two clans. Odessa can only develop once Kiev will be freed from these bribe takers, who directly patronize organized crime and lawlessness,”
said Mikheil Saakashvili.
The Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko replied with a terse statement. He briefly said that he will accept Saakashvili’s resignation when he submits it to the cabinet.
Mikheil Saakashvili started his reform in Odessa with a team of young people eager to enact change. He tried to tackle the practice of taking bribes in the customs service that is seriously affected by corruption. He also tried to make government service more transparent and have them respond faster to the needs of average citizens.
But government officials in Kiev stood in the way of his efforts. Saakashvili said that his plans interfered with local enrichment schemes. Corruption in the area of Odessa has allowed for many politicians to amass fortunes. The reforms that the former Georgian president proposed would have put an end to local operations. Those who held the power locally did everything they could to thwart the efforts of Saakashvili.
One of the projects that Saakashvili had was to open a new customs center in Odessa. The project was brought to a halt when the money allocated for it was stolen.
Giving Up on the Project of a New Ukraine
Mikheil Saakashvili is a bitter opponent of Russian influence in the region. After the 2014 revolution in the Ukraine where the pro-Western side won, an effort began to start modernizing the country. Ukraine brought in foreign politicians and specialists. Saakashvili was one of them, thanks in part to his record in Georgia.
A transformation of Ukraine would have been a difficult task for any team of specialists. From the beginning, there was deep skepticism about Ukraine’s chances of turning things around. One by one, the specialists became disillusioned and turned in their resignation. Discouraged by the lack of progress, they gave up on the project of a new Ukraine.
In February, the minister for the economy, Aivaras Abromavicius, resigned. He said at the time that he doesn’t want to be a “smokescreen” for corruption. The minister for finance, Natalie A. Jaresko stepped down in April.
Image source: here.