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Zelenskyy Appoints Former Georgian President as Chairman of Ukrainian Executive Reform Committee  

On May 7, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as the chairman of the Executive Reform Committee, according to a decree published on Ukrainian President’s website.

“I sincerely congratulate Mikheil Nikolozovich on a new responsible challenge. I believe he will be able to give an impetus to the National Reform Council and help make important changes in the life of the country,” noted President Zelenskyy.

By the same decree, IT businessman Oleksandr Olshansky was appointed as Saakashvili’s deputy.

The decree stipulates that the newly-established Executive Committee, executive branch of the presidential National Reform Council, will be composed of the chairman and deputy chairman appointed by the President. Previously the committee had three co-chairs and a position of the chairman did not exist.

On April 22, Saakashvili announced that President Zelenskyy offered him to serve as the Vice PM of Ukraine.

However, according to Ukrainian media, Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s supreme legislative body, failed to mobilize enough votes for Saakashvili’s appointment and did not consider the issue at its meetings on April 24 and April 30.

According to the media reports, Saakashvili’s candidacy was opposed by “allies of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, as well as by the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life party,” among others.

Prospects of Saakashvili’s political comeback as the Vice Premier in another state have unsettled Georgian leaders.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili stated on April 28 that appointment of a person – convicted by Georgian courts and prosecuted for corruption offenses – on a high-level position was “both incomprehensible and unacceptable.” “I wholeheartedly hope, that our shared past, present and future [of Georgia and Ukraine] will never be put to the test,” she noted.

Mikheil Saakashvili, who served two terms of the President of Georgia between 2004-2012, 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.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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