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Ukrainian President Names Saakashvili To Head Reform Council

Mikheil Saakashvili

KYIV -- Ukraine’s president has named former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to head the executive committee of Ukraine’s National Reform Council.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued an order with the appointment on May 7.

The council was created in 2014 to carry out strategic planning and coordinate reforms.

Saakashvili, 52, served as Georgia’s president from 2004 until 2013. In January 2018, a Georgian court convicted him in absentia of covering up evidence in the case of the killing of a Georgian banker and sentenced him to three years in prison. In June 2018, another court convicted him of abuse of power and sentenced him to six years in prison.

Saakashvili has denied all the accusations and says the charges are politically motivated.

In 2015-2016, Saakashvili served as governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region. When he resigned, he accused Zelenskiy’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, of corruption. Poroshenko, in turn, stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship.

As one of his first acts as president last year, Zelenskiy restored Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship, facilitating Saakshvili’s return to Ukraine.

Last month, Saakashvili said he had been offered the post of deputy prime minister in charge of reform. But it was unclear if parliament would confirm him.

Georgia called the possible appointment “unacceptable” in view of Saakashvili’s convictions there and threatened to withdraw its ambassador to Kyiv for consultations.

With reporting by Reuters