Ex-Odesa Oblast Governor and former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Nov. 11 announced plans to come to power in Ukraine with a newly-created political group, promising to have tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky jailed if he does.
He also said at a news briefing that he had repeatedly rejected President Petro Poroshenko’s offers, made since last year, to appoint him prime minister or leader of the Poroshenko Bloc in parliament, because the president had not agreed to call an early parliamentary election..
Saakashvili resigned as governor on Nov. 7, saying that Poroshenko and other top officials had sabotaged his efforts to make public administration, customs and law enforcement in the region more transparent and corruption-free. Poroshenko and his spokespeople declined to comment.
Saakashvili said he would set up a new political group called the Platform of New Forces and would push for an early parliamentary election “as soon as possible.”
“The current Verkhona Rada comprises only profiteers who bought their seats to keep robbing the Ukrainian people,” Saakashvili said. “They should be driven out of there by the people… We will win when we get rid of Ukrainian political elite – scum and profiteers who are absolutely identical to the Russian ruling class.”
He said that “our authorities can only do one thing – imitate reform, prevaricate, deceive and extort money.”
Though Saakashvili is not eligible to be elected because he has not lived in Ukraine for more than five years, he said he would instead have his supporters elected to parliament.
He said the new group would not recruit people tainted with government corruption – those who have been members of parliament for more than one term, and those who have served in the executive branch for more than two or three years, as well as representatives of big business.
The Platform of New Forces is not the first Ukrainian group affiliated with Saakashvili. He launched the Movement for Cleansing in December 2015, while his supporters announced plans in July to create the Hvylia (Wave) party, though it has not been registered yet.
But Saakashvili said he had not heard of the Hvylia party, and said he disliked the name.
Saakashvili also lambasted Poroshenko, saying that he had blocked his reform efforts instead of facilitating them.
He said that Poroshenko “had more than enough opportunities to carry out reforms” but “blew this chance big-time.”
“Poroshenko had a chance to use me for the right purposes -not for intrigues, oligarchic games and election campaigns, but for real reform in this country,” Saakashvili said. “But it turned out that real reform is opposed to his well-being.”
He told the Korrespondent magazine in a Nov. 11 interview that he had repeatedly rejected Poroshenko’s offer of the premiership without an early election because he would not be able to work with a parliament that he thinks is made up mostly of corrupt politicians.
Saakashvili also criticized Poroshenko’s allies and lawmakers Ihor Kononenko and Oleksiy Honcharenko, accusing them of corruption. He claimed that Kononenko was running a protection racket for illegal coal supplies from Russian-occupied territories in eastern Ukraine.
Kononenko and Honcharenko have denied graft accusations. Kononenko’s spokeswoman Olga Kovpashko said she could not immediately comment on the alleged coal supply scheme.
Saakashvili also accused Security Service of Ukraine Deputy Head Pavlo Demchyna, reportedly a protege of Kononenko and another Poroshenko ally, Oleksandr Hranovsky, of fabricating political cases on the orders of the Presidential Administration. He said the Security Service of Ukraine had searched the premises of Odesa Oblast’s administration immediately after his resignation.
Poroshenko’s spokesman Sviatoslav Tsegolko and the Security Service of Ukraine did not respond to requests for comment.
Saakashvili lashed out at oligarchs and their media that he believes are smearing him, including those owned by Poroshenko and tycoon Ihor Kolomoiksy. In Georgia, Saakashvili had clashed with the country’s biggest oligarchs, Badri Patrakatsishvili and Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Saakashvili claimed that Kolomoisky had reached a deal with Poroshenko that Kolomoisky’s media would attack Saakashvili in exchange for the authorities not nationalizing cash-strapped Privat Bank. In a comment for the Kyiv Post, Kolomoisky said this was a “lie.”
“When we come to power, this bank will be nationalized, while its owner will be held responsible under the law,” Saakashvili said. “(Kolomoisky) will be jailed when we come to power.”
Commenting on the Nov. 8 presidential election in the United States, Saakashvili showed video footage of President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly praising him in the past. He added that both Trump and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had wanted to employ him in the United States to borrow his reform experience, including the creation of facilities for the fast provision of administrative services.
Saakashvili said on Facebook on Nov. 9 that he had been acquainted with Trump for more than 20 years.
“He’s a strong person with unpredictable policies,” he said. “We’re entering a very dangerous period, and unfortunately our government is absolutely unprepared for that.”