'If the US hadn’t sponsored him, Saakashvili would be on Washington’s wanted list'
Mikhail Saakashvili, a long-time personal friend and supporter of Poroshenko, was appointed the head of Odessa region on Saturday, promptly after being given Ukrainian citizenship for that specific purpose. Saakashvili is accused of embezzlement, crackdowns on media and the opposition, and abuse of power by Georgia's prosecutors, who want him extradited.
RT: Why do you think Saakashvili has been proposed for the post of the governor of the Odessa region?
Daniel McAdams: I think the selection is kind of a sign for desperation on the part of the Poroshenko regime in Kiev. You know the cabinet is comprised of a number of foreigners, including an American citizen who is famous for losing about $100 million in Ukraine. So these aren't the most confident people. Saakashvili as most of your viewers know is an international fugitive. He is accused of corruption in Georgia. His reign wasn’t marked by a lot of successes, lets put it this way. So I think it is slightly a mark of desperation on the part of Poroshenko. Maybe it’s a cry for more attention from the West.
RT: Saakashvili is under investigation in Georgia over wasting money from the budget. Is it appropriate to appoint him for a governing position with that accusation?
DM: I think it is probably a calculation on the part of Poroshenko. Poroshenko and Saakashvili share a lot in common. They were both sponsored in color revolutions by the US and the West. I think they have a lot in common, but I think there is view that Saakashvili is still favored by the West. I think in reality in Washington people have probably forgotten what his name is. So I don't think it is wise calculation. But I think it is some sort of a calculation.
RT: How do you think the citizens of Odessa will react to their new governor?
DM: As your viewers know very well, Odessa is very divided and very divisive. It is also very dangerous. Bombs have gone off in the past week. It was a year ago that some 40 people were incinerated by Molotov cocktail throwing radical youth. So it is a region very very divided. But I think if we put ourselves in the shoes of the average resident of Odessa and they tell me that the new governor is going to be a foreigner, a failed foreign leader, I would wonder what they were smoking in Kiev. It just seems really weird.
RT: Do you really think Saakashvili can make a political comeback?
DM: I don't know if he will get his political comeback in Georgia. You never get your second revolution. You only get one chance. But I think, I'm slightly glibber here, but I think if you're wondering what he might do, what is expected of him in Odessa, that may very well be the case. It is not really well known here in the US, but Saakashvili's rule in Georgia was marked by very brutal crackdowns against the political opposition. He seized newspapers. He violently suppressed any sort of political protest. He was a dictator in such way that if he had not been sponsored by the US, he would probably be on the most wanted list in the US. So he showed himself capable of cracking down in the most brutal way against any political opposition. So if Kiev is looking to stamp out any pro secessionist viewpoints in Odessa they may consider that they've got their man in Saakashvili, a person who is as I say a very brutal ruler.
RT: Do you think he is the right person to solve the region's problems? For example an ongoing investigation into the tragedy in Odessa.
DM: I think that will probably get swept under the rug. He is not a person to appoint if you look to actually get to the bottom of what happened. And if you are looking at trying to recover Odessa economically, unfortunately there is more bad news for Ukrainians because his economic record in Georgia, although it's touted in the US and the West as being so fantastic, by the time he left office the GDP was in decline. Foreign investment in Georgia had plummeted. Essentially the Georgian economy was only propped up by foreign aid and foreign loans. Unemployment steadily increased from about 12 by well over 16 percent by the time he left office. There were no jobs. He destroyed the Georgian economy. So there is not much to be optimistic about if you are a citizen of Odessa if you see this foreigner coming in. What is interesting and perhaps ironic, I wonder what language Saakashvili will speak when he talks to his colleagues in Kiev.
RT: Georgia's prime minister recently said that he's surprised by the fact Saakashvili is an adviser to Poroshenko and dubbed it a serious mistake. Why do you think he made such a statement?
DM: The Georgians above everyone else understand the horrors of Saakashvili's rule in Georgia. They know what a disaster he was despite all the propaganda in the West. We all know that sometimes he seemed borderline psychotic. Right after he launched the war against Russia in South Ossetia in 2008 and was embarrassed on the battlefield, he came home and held a rock concert proclaiming victory in the war. So this is not the most stable person to have running things.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.