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Ukraine Offers Saakashvili Post Of Deputy Prime Minister


Mikheil Saakashvili

Ukraine's government has offered former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili the post of deputy prime minister to supervise reforms.

Saakashvili, an ex-governor of Ukraine's Odesa region, wrote on Facebook on April 22 that he plans to submit to the Ukrainian parliament his proposals "for the urgent changes" needed in "this very difficult period" faced by Ukraine.

“It is a great honor for me to receive a proposal from President [Volodymyr] Zelenskiy to become a deputy prime minister.... I also had a very meaningful and useful conversation with Prime Minister [Denys] Shmyhal, during which we discussed in detail all the issues related to my possible work in the government,” Saakashvili wrote.

Zelenskiy's office confirmed the meeting in a statement, saying the two politicians discussed the country's development and how to assist it.

"Mikheil Saakashvili is well-known in the international arena and has already demonstrated the experience of successful implementation of reforms. President Zelenskiy believes that Mr. Saakashvili has the potential to support the Government of Ukraine and invited him to share his views and developments with the Government and Parliament of Ukraine,” the statement said.

Media reports quoted lawmakers earlier in the day as saying that Saakashvili will attend parliament's session on April 24.

Saakashvili, who was Georgian president between 2004-2013, was granted Ukrainian citizenship and appointed to the Odesa governor's post by Zelenskiy’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, in 2015.

Authorities in Tbilisi stripped Saakashvili of his Georgian passport on the grounds that Georgia does not allow dual citizenship.

When relations between Poroshenko and Saakashvili soured over reform efforts and the fight against corruption, the Ukrainian president in November 2016 sacked Saakashvili from the governor's post.

In July 2017, after Saakashvili created the Movement of New Forces opposition party, Poroshenko issued a decree that stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship.

In February 2018, Saakashvili was detained in Kyiv, taken to the airport, and flown to Poland.

Days later, Ukraine's border service banned Saakashvili from entering the country until February 13, 2021.

In May 2019, just days after his inauguration, Zelenskiy reinstated Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship and, in October, prosecutors opened a criminal probe into Saakashvili’s 2018 deportation from Ukraine.

The Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office said then that the investigation was launched after Saakashvili filed a complaint over the “abduction and violent actions against” him and “his illegal” deportation to Poland.

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