Is Saakashvili Putin’s Worst Nightmare? - VisualPolitik EN

Is Saakashvili Putin’s Worst Nightmare? - VisualPolitik EN
    In this video, we are going to take a look at the career of one of the most surprising
    and controversial figures of the Century.
    That figure is Mikheil Saakashvili.
    Wait a second, don’t you know him?
    Well, imagine a person who is capable of being the one of the best of allies of Washington
    and, at the same, the greatest enemy of Vladimir Putin.
    He was  the president of one country, a candidate to preside over another, and, today, he doesn´t
    even have a nationality.
    A man, a politician worthy of starring in a political thriller.
    In fact, now that I mention it, it wouldn't be surprising to see a Netflix original produced
    about this guy..
    Well, this is today´s character: Mikheil Saakashvili.
    In order to start our story, we need to go back to May the 30th, 2015.
    That day, Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, appointed Mikheil Saakashvili
    as the governor of the province of Odessa.
    With this position, Misha was given Ukranian nationality.
    However, to become a Ukranian citizen,  he had to give up citizenship from his home country,
    Georgia: a country he had led as President between 2004 and 2013.
    His addition to the Ukrainian government was quite the treat for the media.
    And it is only logical.
    You see, at that time, Ukraine was going through a really tense situation.
    After the so-called Maidan revolution and the fall of the pro-Russian president, Victor
    Yanukovich, there was almost a feeling of civil war in Ukraine: a war between Kiev´s
    supporters, and Moscow´s.
    And Odessa was one of the most pro-Russian provinces.
    So you can imagine the whole picture: a foreign ex president, and not just any ex president,
    but one of Putin´s worst enemies, appointed as governor of Odessa...
    This event was hugely discussed in all the national as well as international press.
    The president of Ukraine who was, by the way, an old friend and fellow college student of
    Misha´s, Petro Poroshenko, described Misha as “the man w upho makes possible the impossible”
    At that time their friendship seemed to be “bulletproof”.
    Well, the mission of the new governor was to stabilize Odessa, grant power to Kiev,
    chase corruption, and set the groundwork for the region to prosper.
    In order to carry it all out, Misha brought many of his former collaborators from Georgia.
    He also hired many Ukrainian young professionals who he thought to be corruption free, like
    Yulia Marushevska, an activist who became famous here on YouTube, with the video “I
    am a Ukrainian”.
    Misha also brought in some people from Putin´s opposition in Russia, like the Russian activist
    Maria Gaidar, who was appointed Vice-Governor, no less.
    There was a lot to do and it had to be done fast so… as it was said, so it was done.
    Once he took the Odessa governorship, the new governor started a thorough investigation
    to find and punish corrupt public workers.
    He changed most of the high level positions in the Public Administration; He simplified
    the process to create companies, and introduced independent controls and even liberated public
    beaches that had been illegally occupied, so that once again Odessa’s citizens could
    enjoy them.
    And hold on a second here, because Misha has a strange work methodology: it is as effective
    as it is controversial.
    If anything doesn't work properly and is corrupt, he dismantles it, fires all the workers and
    sets it up again.
    He did the same during his time in office in Georgia with the Traffic Police, and he
    threatened to do it again with the Odessa Port, the largest commercial port in Ukraine,
    well-known for the bribes and payments to the customs officers.
    “We need to fire them all.
    We have 130 new people.
    They are young, new and trained, and the old ones are hopeless”.
    - Mikheil Saakashvili.
    In the end, he only had to fire some of the customs officers so the corruption would stop.
    “A number of businessmen noted that bribes at the port really had stopped in recent months,
    mainly because people were scared of becoming the next victim of one of Saakashvili’s
    public anti-corruption tirades”.
    - Shaun Walker, correspondent of The Guardian.
    With all these changes and with the help of Misha's contacts, Odessa started to receive
    help from the USA.
    And, since Misha didn't trust the Police, the first thing he did was establish an independent
    police force to fight corruption.
    A police force that was organized and trained by the FBI and the California Highway Police!
    So, it looks like everything was going fine, right?
    Then just wait, because both Saakashvili and his team soon realized it was all going to
    be much harder than they anticipated...
    The problem was that Odessa was not a battle field of Kiev´s supporters vs Pro-Russians…
    but it was a battlefield between the rule of law and an oligarchy that has dominated
    Ukraine since its independence.
    More and more experts have said so: Ukraine´s biggest problem is not Russia, it is the oligarchy.
    Corruption in Ukraine is so embedded that we could almost say it is a sort of feudal
    country where the nobility are, of course, the almighty oligarchs.
    They control the companies, the political power, the administration, the media...
    Almost nothing escapes their power, consolidated by money and fear.
    Their level of impunity is almost absolute: police, government and judges are part of
    the game.
    Things have been this way since Ukraine got its independence.
    But, since the Maidan Revolution, it all got much worse.
    After the fall of the Pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich and with the civil conflict
    the country was going through, the new government felt incapable of trusting the army or the
    police since both institutions were corrupt, disorganized and badly-equipped.
    That is why he made a decision: he appointed several oligarchs as governors of some of
    the most vulnerable regions in the country.
    These oligarchs paid for their own private armies, and with nice incentives, the police
    followed their orders as well, earning a sum for the head of every separatist.
    Yes, just as I told you.
    The government placed the mafia directly in charge of several governorships.
    That was the case for Ihor Kolomoisky, who was appointed governor of Dnipropetrovsk,
    one of the most important provinces of the country, economically speaking.
    Yes, this is the Ukraine Mikheil Saakashvili was dealing with.
    “There is not a single state enterprise in Ukraine that has not been usurped by one
    clan or another”.
    Aivaras Abromavicius, former minister for economy and trade of Ukraine
    As you can imagine, all these oligarchs did not welcome Misha or his reform agenda.
    Once, he was even kicked out of an interview when he suggested all of these mafia members
    had to be sent to prison.
    Remember, the media is also the property of the oligarchy...
    The thing is Misha soon started to work to fight, and end, this situation.
    “I will do whatever it takes for complete victory to rid Ukraine of this filth, of this
    corrupt scum, which capitalize on the blood of our soldiers […] whose only motivation
    in life is to fill its own pockets, strengthen its own clan and bleed Ukraine dry”.
    Mikheil Saakashvili
    And so he did.
    Misha started to publicly report all kinds of influence peddling, favourable treatment
    and privileges.
    On one occasion, he came on national television and reported the details of a corrupt scheme
    of the airlines owned by Kolomoisky, an oligarch who nearly obtained a monopoly on national
    The public report ended the situation and took many of the people involved to court...but
    as you can imagine...Mr. Kolomoisky didn´t take it well...
    He promised to get revenge and here’s what he said about Saakashvili, in public:
    “When a dog without a muzzle bites someone, we need to punish both the dog and, more importantly,
    its owner”.
    Ihor Kolomoisky
    Now, do not think all Misha did was to report the oligarchs… not at all.
    Saakashvili's reforms in Odessa didn't completely work.
    Many of them were stopped and sabotaged by the government in Kiev...
    This wasn't just the see, corruption was so commonplace that it was
    difficult to tell the difference between the mafia and the authorities...
    Misha didn't think twice.
    The government also became his target.
    Many analysts claim that this new war against the government had a hidden agenda: to take
    a leap to national politics.
    Well, maybe…
    And the thing is, he did it.
    He started by reporting the corruption of the very Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk,
    and many ministers followed... even his own friend, the president Petro Poroshenko, the
    person who had placed him in Odessa.
    “What difference for Ukrainians does it make who will treat them like dirt: Poroshenko
    or Yanukovych; what difference who will steal from them?”
    Mikheil Saakashvili
    The friendship didn't last long.
    As we have seen, Poroshenko appointed Misha governor in May 2015.
    In just a year the battle had begun.
    Finally, in November 2016, Misha resigned as governor and began his own political party:
    the MNF.
    And he soon gained more than 20,000 members.
    Yes, the former Georgian president now wanted to lead Ukraine.
    In his own words, he aspired to turn this disaster of a country into a complete European
    But you might be wondering about the response of Poroshenko and the government to this campaign...
    Pay attention:
    In July 2017 Poroshenko took advantage of the fact that Misha was in the USA and revoked
    his Ukrainian citizenship.
    All of a sudden, Mikheil Saakashvili was a stateless person.
    Now, if you think that stopped are very wrong.
    Look, when his nationality was taken away, Misha moved to Poland.
    And we have to say Misha is well-loved in Eastern Europe.
    In fact, many countries offered him citizenship...but no, Misha was determined to go back to Ukraine.
    And that is exactly what he did.
    Despite the warnings of the government in Kiev, on September 10th, surrounded by a supportive
    crowd, Misha crossed the border on foot between Poland and Ukraine.
    The images of his confrontation with the border guards are… quite a sight.
    By the way, what do you think he’s up to now that he’s back?
    Despite his irregular situation...Misha is campaigning around the country..
    All of that said…
    there is still an unanswered question: Why Mikheil Saakashvili?
    In 2003, Misha lead a popular uprising against the corrupt Georgian political system of Eduard
    And, in what was known as the Rose Revolution, he even made it to the Georgian parliament.
    Elections were held and as the successful revolution’s leader, Saakashvili easily
    beat the rest.
    The reform process started.
    A fierce fight against corruption and a tough policy towards Moscow that became a model
    for the former soviet countries.
    But we will discuss these matters as well as the dark and less glamorous side of Saakashvili
    in a future video, here at VisualPolitik.
    For now, it is your turn: Do you think Misha will end up leading Ukraine?
    Leave your answer in the comments as well as in this survey.
    Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for brand new videos every Monday and Thursday.
    Also, don’t forget to check out our friends at the Reconsider Media Podcast - they provided
    the vocals in this episode that were not mine!
    And hey, if you are looking for something else to watch, check out Biographics…
    And as always, thanks for watching!
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