In a new round of bitter exchanges between Kyiv and Tbilisi, Georgian Dream officials have lambasted Ukraine’s Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, who previously slammed the Georgian Government’s position over Russia’s war in Ukraine as ambiguous.
In an interview with Voice of America’s Georgian bureau, aired on May 3, Podolyak said the Georgian Dream benefactor, ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili is a “Russian oligarch” holding sway over the Government of Georgia. While being stark in his criticism of the government, Podolyak stressed the support that the Ukrainians feel from the Georgian people.
Podolyak also took aim at Ivanishvili on Twitter last week, referring to a recently released Transparency International report which purports to show his ties with Russian business.
Georgian Officials Retort
Podolyak’s statements drew swift criticism from Tbilisi Mayor and GD General Secretary Kakha Kaladze, among other ruling party figures.
“Podolyak’s statement is embarrassing. We’ve heard more than one embarrassing statement. My request is simple – investigate who Podolyak is. You will find a lot of very interesting information,” Mayor Kaladze responded.
Pointing out at his life and career as a professional footballer in Ukraine, he invited spectators cryptically to inquire about “what kind of life he [Podolyak] lived”.
Before rising to the position of the communications advisor to President Zelenskyy, Minsk-born Podolyak worked in several opposition-minded newspapers in Belarus, and after his exile, in Ukraine, rising to the position of Editor-in-Chief of Obozrevatel. Kaladze’s questioning of “what life he lived” seems reminiscent of the formula used in post-Soviet criminal underworld, indicating someone who failed to live by the “gangster’s code”.
Irakli Zarkua, GD lawmaker, criticized Podolyak for interfering in inner Georgian dealings.
“The information war continues… You have a war on your hands, many people are dying, Ukraine is facing many challenges and they’re taking the time to interfere in inner Georgian affairs and they’re saying what people should do.”
“How something shouldn’t be…. who’s asking Podolyak? What does he represent? He is a vagrant, who became a part of the government accidentally, like many others,” MP Zarkua added.
The recent development is a continuation of strained relations between Kyiv and Tbilisi amid Russia’s weeks-long bloody invasion of Ukraine.
Georgian Parliamentary delegation’s recent cross-party visit to Kyiv, Bucha, and Irpin seemingly did little to defuse tensions between the two governments, as Ukrainian authorities continue to call into question Tbilisi’s compliance with the international sanctions regime against Russia.
Georgia’s ruling party has also drawn ire from local opposition politicians and the Georgian public since the start of the war.
Numerous protests have taken place in Tbilisi and across Georgian towns to announce solidarity with Ukraine and push the government to greater action.
The Georgian Government insists they are complying with international sanctions, albeit defending the refusal to bring new national sanctions against Moscow, citing “national interests.”
Georgian Dream authorities, in turn, accused former United National Movement officials, now serving in the ranks of the Ukrainian government, of staging a hybrid war against Georgia.
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