Saakashvili out while problems remain

23:20, 12 February 2018
Politics
865 0
Opinion

This time, Saakashvili's detention ended up in his deportation to Warsaw. A spokesman for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Oleh Slobodyan, stated that "the operatives of the State Border Guard Service together with representatives of the Migration Service and National Police informed Mikheil Saakashvili on the decision of the competent body on his return to the country of his previous stay, Poland".

On the one hand, Ukrainian authorities performed an "act of humanism", sending Saakashvili to the EU, where he could further acquire permanent residence in the Netherlands under a family reunion procedure, instead of deporting him to Georgia, where he would have faced imminent arrest and, at least, several months in prison.

It is unlikely that Warsaw will rejoice at such a step by Kyiv. This might even add up more spice to the already strained bilateral relations. However, Saakashvili faces no threats while in Poland. He will neither be arrested nor is he likely to be deported elsewhere.

The presidential administration’s logic could be understood. Mikheil was invited to do one job, but instead of doing it, he started building up his "own political image" (Ukrainian elites haven’t fancied that since Kuchma times) and turned for Ukrainian authorities into an annoying troll.

On the one hand, Ukrainian authorities performed an "act of humanism", sending Saakashvili to the EU instead of Georgia

Since Saakashvili has been stripped of his earlier acquired Ukrainian citizenship (we shall leave behind brackets the way this was done), Saakashvili is banned by law from engaging in politics in Ukraine. Moreover, he has no right to set up mass rallies demanding impeachment. This was clearly stated both by President Petro Poroshenko and Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.

But, in my opinion, Saakashvili’s expulsion to Europe will not bring the presidential team the long-sought tranquility.

I am afraid to once again become that prophet delivering bad news (I have already said that the former Georgian president will be detained three times), but it seems to me that the Saakashvili saga will not end with his deportation to Warsaw.

Perhaps, the Bankova [presidential administration] believes that once they’ve gotten rid of Saakashvili, removing him from the territory of Ukraine, the protest waves will go to naught. In fact, the deportation will only radicalize it.

Protest leaders are already queuing up to play their part. Meanwhile, public demand for protest action has already formed, say most sociologists. Suppressing this public contempt would only deepen the crisis.

Now, it will be, say, Yulia Tymoshenko, or some murky figures from the National Squads, or an odious MP Semen Semenchenko who may take people to the streets of Ukrainian cities.

Perhaps, the Bankova believes that once they’ve gotten rid of Saakashvili, removing him from the territory of Ukraine, the protest waves will go to naught. In fact, the deportation will only radicalize it

As early as March, it a wave of rallies should be expected, initiated by Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party calling for early parliamentary elections and Poroshenko’s impeachment. New leaders and political projects are becoming more vocal as well. I don’t rule out that the radical wing of the Euro-optimists, the Liberation movement, together with Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces, will try to pump second breath into Saakashvili Marches.

While Saakashvili used to be a natural obstacle for more people to join rallies, (many prudent activists did not take part solely because they didn’t relate themselves with Mikheil’s slogans), now the niche is free.

In the new political season, there will be a dozen influential financial and industrial groups that may start their risky game, which will result in a jackpot. The election is closer than you think...

Vitaliy Kulyk is a Director of the Center for the Study of Civil Society Problems

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