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Ukraine and Georgia: Two Rabbits, One Misha

Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to reporters in the town of Chernomorsk in the Ukrainian region of Odessa in June 2016. Since assuming the position of the region’s governor, Saakashvili has found that reliance on the same tactics that he used in Georgia is not producing the outcomes he desired. (Photo: Odessa Regional Administration)

There is an old Ukrainian saying – if you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one. This adage can apply to politics, and it has particular relevancy these days for Mikheil Saakashvili, the erstwhile president of Georgia who managed to morph into the governor of the Ukrainian region of Odessa.
 
Saakashvili, of course, has been one of Eurasia’s most colorful and controversial political figures for more than a decade, a leader who on occasion has resorted to authoritarian means to produce democratic ends.
 
His stint as Georgian president ended in 2013 due to term limits, but his tenure effectively was finished a year before that, when his United National Movement (UNM) party lost parliamentary elections, and the Georgian Dream coalition took control of the legislature. Shortly after leaving office, Saakashvili departed Georgia, and in 2014, he was charged with abuse-of-power crimes related to his two presidential terms.
 

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Peter Zalmayev is the director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative, a New York-based non-governmental organization that seeks to educate the public about economic, political and social dynamics in post-Soviet states. Recently, Zalmayev has been a frequent commentator on the hostilities in Eastern Ukraine, appearing on leading international broadcast media, including the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera, as well as most major Ukrainian media outlets. Zalmayev has also contributed commentaries to Al Jazeera's website and The Huffington Post.

Ukraine and Georgia: Two Rabbits, One Misha

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