‘Leaders for rent’ is no answer

Max Fras explains why Ukraine and Georgia need to nurture homegrown talent rather than import politicians.

The World Today Updated 28 September 2020 Published 1 June 2020 2 minute READ

Dr Max Fras

Eurasia Democratic Security Network Fellow, Tbilisi Centre for Social Sciences

In May, Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who fled his homeland in 2013 while facing charges of abuse of power, was given an important job in Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky had proposed him as deputy prime minister, but opposition to the move in the president’s own party resulted in Saakashvili being made leader of the National Reform Council.

This post marked his second comeback in Ukraine. Only five years ago, he had been granted Ukrainian citizenship to become governor of the Odessa region.

He quit that job after a year and, having protested against the corruption schemes of then president Petro Poroshenko in the region, he was stripped of his citizenship and deported from Ukraine in 2017. He managed to get back into the country which had adopted and then rejected him, leading to a standoff in Kyiv between his supporters and police who tried to arrest him.

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