Ukraine expels Mikheil Saakashvili

Ukraine has accused Mikheil Saakashvili of preparing a coup and deported him to Poland. The former Georgian president, now stateless, came to Ukraine as as a friend of President Poroshenko in 2015 but then fell out with the leader, accusing him of corruption. Opinions are divided as to his deportation.

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Novoye Vremya (UA) / 13 February 2018

A sign of state schizophrenia

The state has failed all the way down the line, political scientist Petro Oleshchuk concludes in Novoye Vremya:

“ It's about the Ukrainian state being dragged through the dirt yesterday. It was made clear that it simply doesn't exist. Because every state should observe its own rules and procedures, otherwise it's meaningless. Saakashvili organised a coup? Then he must be convicted. That's all, end of story. If he didn't organise one, he must be acquitted. If a trial begins and in the middle of it the 'conspirator' is simply deported, not even extradited, simply sent away, that means that the state is suffering from acute schizophrenia.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) / 13 February 2018

Ukraine needs Saakashvili

The Saakashvili case will further damage Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's reputation, taz predicts:

“The way Saakashvili has been treated demonstrates the arbitrary nature of the rule of law in Ukraine. You can simply grant a fellow politician Ukrainian citizenship and then just as quickly withdraw it and send him out of the country when he doesn't behave as he's supposed to politically. Poroshenko's team doesn't seem to have any fears about medium-term negative consequences. ... In Kiev's political circles people are already thinking ahead to the time after Poroshenko. Nationalists and the conservative opposition are both ready for the fray. There are no alternatives. And in this context too, Saakashvili's return would be desirable. The field must not be left to the nationalists.”

Ukrayinska Pravda (UA) / 11 February 2018

A clever and humane move

Deporting Saakashvili to Poland is a satisfactory solution both for Ukraine and for the 50-year-old politician, political scientist Viktor Ukolov, who has close ties to the president, counters in Ukrayinska Pravda:

“This move is the most humane solution for Saakashvili, who could have been sent back without delay to the Georgian prisons that he reformed. ... This deportation is a legal, carefully considered step, and at the same time a gesture of weariness on the part of a country that has earned the right to live in peace and develop. The only worrying aspect is that one can't help feeling a little sorry for Poland. Let's hope that Mikheil won't try to go into politics in yet another country.”

Izvestia (RU) / 13 February 2018

Embarrassing fiasco for the West

The pro-Kremlin Izvestia, meanwhile, sees Saakashvili's deportation as proof that you can't build a state on the strength of Western-sponsored reform policies:

“In some countries there's a mystical concept of the West. That it spreads freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and prosperity. All you need to do, so the story goes, is forego any 'unnecessary' sovereignty and the benevolent 'white men' will construct a civilised state in just a few years. ... That's what people believed in Georgia under Saakashvili. And that's also how things were supposed to be in Ukraine after the Western-endorsed Euromaidan. Now, however, one must acknowledge either that Saakashvili is not such a 'great reformer' or that things in Ukraine are quite simply not all they're made out to be. In both cases the Western curators have not brought any good to their mandated territories - quite the contrary.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) / 13 February 2018

That man is not welcome here!

Poland stands to gain nothing from Saakashvili's presence, Rzeczpospolita believes:

“Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse in our foreign relations, Mikheil Saakashvili shows up in Warsaw. And with him all the problems of Ukrainian domestic politics. Just what we needed. As if relations with Kiev weren't tense enough as it is. ... It won't be easy for the government to throw him out - after all he was considered a friend of the late president Lech Kaczyński. And it certainly can't send him back to Georgia, where he'd end up in jail. ... At the same time it's hard to ignore that he'll be using his base here to call for the overthrow of the government of a neighbouring country, and one which is vital for the security of our region. So he should be told very calmly that the climate in Warsaw is not right for him.”

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