Last week, being together with the family of my uncle, with a short visit to the United States, I learned that President Petro Poroshenko, without telling anyone of his decision, hastily stripped me of Ukrainian citizenship, thus leaving me without any nationality without valid travel documents. He also forbade me to return to the country.
How the picture has changed in just a few months! Just over two years ago, the same President gave me Ukrainian citizenship at a ceremony in Kiev. Prior to this I served two terms spent on a post of the President of Georgia, held in this small and once backward country of the reform, the success of which was noted by the world Bank.
During my tenure, we managed to increase the gross domestic product of Georgia four times, 11 times to increase the state budget, eliminating corruption and bureaucratic delays, and most importantly — to prepare the conditions for the first democratic transfer of power in the region.
After that I chose largely unusual lesson: we decided to start a political career in another country, accepting the offer Poroshenko to become the Governor of Odessa, the largest and most strategically important region of Ukraine.
My duty was clear. I was assigned to bring order to this traditionally corrupt the region and to eliminate the local mafia. Meanwhile, former members of my Georgian government was appointed to other high government positions, helping to create a new Ukrainian police and the National anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine and a number of other institutions.
Initially, our work in collaboration with newly-arrived young Ukrainian policy idealists went well, but problems were not long in coming. The President not only did not assist us in our efforts, but all too often supported by those established interests that we were supposed to fight. It soon became apparent that the invitation we received from Poroshenko, was part of his PR campaign: he wanted to appear as a reformer in the eyes of the Ukrainian public and in addition to attract funds from international donors. In fact, Poroshenko has refused to challenge the oligarchical structure in Ukraine or to curb his cronies.
After one and a half years of arduous effort, I decided to stop trying to work with Poroshenko and officially resigned from my position of Governor. But that doesn’t mean I have lost faith in the Ukrainian people — I spoke to him directly, creating a new political party “new force”.
We were joined by the elected representatives at all political levels, as well as many other persons who intend to fight corruption and the oligarchs.
Although the presidential administration has managed to block us access to all the main television channels, I created my own talk show on a private channel, quickly turning it into one of the most popular political programs in the country. Unfortunately, the output of my program on the air was temporarily suspended in July — shortly before Poroshenko has deprived me of a Ukrainian passport.
As legal grounds for Ukrainian President refers to the case initiated against me by the Georgian government, which is controlled by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, a man who supports a long-standing and close business ties with Russia. No country in the world has recognized these accusations, including the Ukraine, whose General Prosecutor’s office dismissed them as politically motivated two years ago.
I understand why Poroshenko acted with such haste, not observing any of the proper legal procedures; it was not announced anything about the hearings, nor the trial, have not made any prior notification. The decision was made completely in secret. The Constitution expressly forbids the government to deprive a citizen of his nationality. This act contradicts the international commitments of Ukraine, including those that are spelled out in the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness. Here’s how Carl Bildt reacted to the decision Poroshenko on Twitter: “to Deprive political enemies of citizenship — the height of bad faith”.
Whatever the intentions Poroshenko, he will not be able to stop my political activities, and even more so to shut me up. I will continue to mobilize its supporters in Ukraine to fight the corrupt and oligarchic elite, which hinders the development of the country, plundering its best resources and undermining economic growth.
We strongly aim to unite all Pro-Western democratic forces. In the autumn we plan to start a campaign to change the law on elections to enforce the laws on the fight against corruption and to deprive the oligarchs ‘ privileged access to the government.
Ukraine deserves much more. I consider it my duty to help protect this great nation from the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, which undermines it from the outside and from Poroshenko and other oligarchs who are destroying it from the inside. Despite the fact that I am forbidden to return to Ukraine, I will continue to fight for my rights as a citizen and work to improve political conditions in the country.
Mikheil Saakashvili — the former Georgian President, former Governor of the Odessa region and the leader of the political party “Movement of new forces.”