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Me and Ukraine

Wednesday, 05 July 2023, 18:32

The former president of Georgia sent this handwritten text to the editor-in-chief of UP through his friends.

The author's spelling has been preserved, and only the proper names have been corrected.

I came to Ukraine as a teenager, went to Shevchenko University international law department from which I graduated in 1992 with a red diploma. 


I also served in the soviet armed forces for 2 years in Chop and Kyiv. As a student I took part in Revolution on the Granite, leader of which Oles Donii is now my friend. 

I also marched with Stepan Khmara and his supporters near Rada. 

On December 1 1991 I took part in the referendum for independence of Ukraine. My act 2 with Ukraine started with my presidency in Georgia and active involvement in preparing the Orange Maidan. I was first head of state to speak to the victorious Maidan and since then whatever I would do in Georgia or internationally it was always co-ordinated with Ukraine’s leaders and politicians. 

Immediately in the aftermath of my presidency I came back to the revolution of dignity bringing with me the first big group of European politicians. Yanukovich forced me to leave in a few days, but I came back the day after he fled and basically never left since then. 

Poroshenko appointed me as head of his international advisory board and that was the moment when Ivanishvili on the orders of Putin started criminal case against me on fabricated charges and once I became head of Odesa’s regional administration, they followed with arrest warrant in Georgia. (Interpol refused to even consider that arrest warrant as anything legitimate). 

Our period in Odesa was difficult but exciting. I forced the central government to build the road from Odesa to Reni, the road to Vylkove and to Kodyma. We totally eliminated corruption at the Odesa customs which earned me lots of enemies. I am proud that I did all the preparatory work for construction of new Odesa airport terminal and runway.

We also organised first modern public service centre in Ukraine. But most importantly for me I discovered a very bright group of talented Ukrainians some of whom play prominent role in today’s Ukraine. 

I also realised that reforming country in one separate region was impossible. So we put together legal instruments of profound charges in tax, land, regulatory legislation called "Odesa Package of Reforms". We also organised Rukh Za Ochyshchennia (Movement for Clean-Up) and started to tour the country advocating the changes. This movement led to the change of government in Ukraine, but also to Poroshenko who already regarded us as a threat to start crack-down on my team and me. 

My resignation together with entire young team has followed and we immediately started movement for impeachment of Poroshenko mobilizing huge crowds in what pro-government propaganda deliberately named "Mikho Maidan". 

Soon I was deprived of my nationality leaving me stateless. But after some preparation, I forced my way back into Ukraine carried by my supporters and helped by Ukraine’s opposition leaders including Yuliia Tymoshenko and welcomed by my friend Andrii Sadovyi, mayor of Lviv.

After weeks of mass rallies all around Ukraine, I was arrested, freed by crowds, re-arrested again, freed by a judge and after some time seized in Kyiv and deported to Poland. 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his election campaign promised to restore my citizenship and he kept his word. It was one of his first decrees. 

I became his advisor in charge of the National Reform Council and I am proud that despite all the hurdles put on the way by special interests, we were backed by the president and pushed through the National Reform Council. 

New construction regulation privatization law, we were charged by the president and head of his office Yermak to work on some parts of the land law and finally our idea of electronic customs clearance for cars and other items has been accepted. 

Of course I wished we could contribute more to the changes but I was still very happy to work with this young president, also Yermak, Arakhamiia, Fedorov, Shuliak, Chernyshov and many others. 

So what is Ukraine for me. 

It is essential part of my life and fight. I spent most of my conscious life in Ukraine. I speak Ukrainian now already better than Russian. Ukraine is my house in Kyiv, small land plot in Myrhorod. Ukraine is my special love – the city of Odesa. Ukraine is huge number of my friends and lately Ukraine is my small Ukrainian daughter Jasmine whom I had no chance to see and hold in my hands yet. 

For me survival and success of Georgia was always unimaginable without Ukraine, now it also extends to the survival of European continent and to my own survival and rescue from Putin’s oligarchic prison. 

Mikheil Saakashvili 

Disclaimer: Articles reflect their author’s point of view and do not claim to be objective or to explore every aspect of the issues they discuss. The Ukrainska Pravda editorial board does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, or its interpretation, and acts solely as a publisher. The point of view of the Ukrainska Pravda editorial board may not coincide with the point of view of the article’s author.

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