The news about the appointment of the ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili as the governor of the Odessa region and getting him Ukrainian citizenship has become one of the most resonant in the late spring of last year.
May 31, the new governor took office, receiving much wider powers than any other governor in Ukraine. This fact was outlined in the most powerful world’s media like Der Spiegel, The Guardian, The Washington Post. Now it’s time to sum up the year of his governorship.
Mikhail Saakashvili made a lot of loud statements and featured in a number of scandals. TheOdessaTimes will try to focus on the projects* and promises of the governor. Which of them have been implemented and how well?
Among the mass of promises, made by Saakashvili, it is easy to pick three main areas:
- the reconstruction of the international highway Odessa-Reni;
- the opening of the modern center of administrative services (Citizen Service Centre) similar to the House of Justice in Georgia;
- creating the new customs terminal (the Open Customs Area) according to the Georgian sample.
After a year none of the projects is completed.
Can the populism of Saakashvili be the only reason for failure? It is well-known that the parliament for a long time did not support the initiative of the Open customs because of the different groups of influence (including Odessa groups).
The bad relationship with the mayor of Odessa Gennadiy Trukhanov (who figured in a set of scandals as well) and his team also affected the projects.
It was planned that the Citizen Service Centre, which functioned for some time, as well as Open customs space will become self-sustaining. However, it became clear that the Parliament is not ready to support the idea of financing the wage boards of organizations by revenue from services provided there.
Also, there are opinions that the new leadership of the Odessa customs in the face of very young Julia Marushevska is not able to implement all the planned targets. And it, again, faces with opposition from the SSU (Security Service of Ukraine), fiscal services and other departments, which are controlled by the old groups of influence.
Despite all the fights, the following initiatives have been implemented successfully:
- an open contest of heads of regional administrations;
- more than two times reducing of the Odessa RSA staff;
- the “transparent” State Administration (e-procurement system Prozorro);
- publication of medications lists that patients can receive free of charge.
In addition, Saakashvili is credited with the appearance of the new police, however, this opinion is erroneous. The decision was made and approved prior to his appointment to the governor post.
Another undoubted advantage that Odessa received from Saakashvili’s governorship is good PR in media, moreover foreign media. Saakashvili visited many world forums, offering to invest in Odessa region and presenting it as a cultural, tourism, logistics and industrial potencial. He told much about the initiated reforms and fight against corruption.
The area has received special attention from the United States’ government as well. The US Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield signed a separate agreement between the State Department and the Odessa State Administration for the provision of advice to the Odessa region in the reform of customs and administrative services.
Now Saakashvili and his team face the “dark times”. Recent searches in the Odessa Regional State Administration prove that.
But what is Saakashvili’s main project? All his activity including presence on world forums, the Anticorruption set of forums organized in Ukraine, creation of his own party prove that he is planning to get rather powerful post on the national level and his big ambitions for the future parlimentary elections.