Ukrainian citizenship for reforms: what are expat officials engaged in now
The ex-President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, is no longer a citizen of Ukraine. He has been stripped of citizenship by Petro Poroshenko, who himself granted it to him. After the Revolution of Dignity, Poroshenko was handing out Ukrainian passports to expatriate reformers. In 2015, 978 people were issued Ukrainian passports, and in 2016, 809 people. Of them, 131 were Russian nationals, 97 – Syrians and 47 – Georgians. Hromadske recalls what has happened to the government officials who were granted Ukrainian citizenship.
Khatia Dekamnoide, a member of Saakashvili’s team, was granted Ukrainian citizenship in 2015. At first, she served as an advisor to the Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov. Later, in November 2015, she headed the Ukrainian National Police. Under her leadership, the top police brass was renewed by 80%.
One year later, Dekanoidze resigned, saying her main task had been accomplished but that she didn’t enjoy enough powers to finish the reform.
In May 2017, Dekanoidze had her Georgian citizenship restored and she returned to the country.
Maria Gaidar, a Russian opposition politician and daughter of Yegor Gaidar, a reformer from the 1990s, moved to Ukraine in July 2015. She was appointed as the Deputy Governor of the Odessa region, and was granted Ukrainian citizenship in August of the same year. Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, personally handed her passport to her. In autumn 2015, Maria was elected as a member of Odessa regional council from the ‘Petro Poroshenko bloc’ faction.
In September 2016, Maria Gaidar filed a petition renouncing her Russian citizenship. In March 2017, President Poroshenko appointed Maria Gaidar as his non-staff adviser.
Another member of Saakashvili’s team, Sasha Borovik, a native of Lvov city, was granted German citizenship in 2011 and refused to take a Ukrainian passport. He restituted his Ukrainian citizenship in 2015, after being elected a member of the Odessa Municipal Council. Alongside that, he also served as Saakashvili’s acting deputy.
Borovik had to resign in 2016, after the law banning public officials from having any citizenship other than Ukrainian, entered into force. The Ukrainian President revoked his citizenship in spring 2017.
“…Borovik signed a document pledging before the Ukrainian state to renounce his other citizenship. He has forgotten about his commitment,” said Poroshenko.
Borovik has been staying abroad for over a year already. He regards the government’s decision as anti-constitutional, because when being granted a Ukrainian passport, he didn’t take dual citizenship, neither was he in public service in any other country.
David Sakvarelidze, Saakashvili’s teammate in Georgia, was granted Ukrainian citizenship in early 2015. Sakvarelidze served as the Deputy Prosecutor. He gained renown after a series of investigations into corruption deals in the Prosecutor’s Office, namely the so-called diamond prosecutors’ cases. In September 2015, Sakvarelidze was appointed the Prosecutor of Odessa region, whereas a year later, he was dismissed from the law-enforcement agency.
Later on, he set up the ‘Khvilya’ (‘Wave’) party jointly with his former colleague, Vitaly Gasko, who had also been dismissed from the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office. The party allegedly aimed at combating corruption. Sometime later, Sakvarelidze joined Mikhail Saakashvili’s newly set up party ‘Rukh Novikh Sil’ (the ‘New Forces’ Movement’’).
As Sakvarelidze pointed out in his Facebook post in May this year, President Poroshenko is ‘forming a group for living out yet another reckless venture of his, that is, to deprive us, the Georgians, of Ukrainian citizenship.”
Ayvarus Abromavichus, a Lithuanian national, ex-Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, was granted Ukrainian citizenship in December 2014. As an exception, the Lithuanian government allowed his to keep his passport.
Abromavichus held the Minister’s post for over a year. Then he resigned, pointing to the corruption and pressure on part of the President’s Administration.
He still lives in Kyiv. In his words, he is engaged in business projects in Ukraine and abroad, attracting foreign investors to the country. He is an independent director of the Ukrainian Entrepreneurs’ Union (SUP). He has maintained his Ukrainian citizenship.
Eka Zghuladze, ex-Minister of Interior of Georgia, moved to Ukraine at the end of 2014. She was granted Ukrainian citizenship on the request of the Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov. President Poroshenko handed her a Ukrainian passport. Shortly after that, she was appointed the First Deputy Ministry of Interior.
She quitted her post in May 2016. Yet, she pledged to proceed with the MoI reforms and to head a special group of advisors to Minister Avakov. However, later on she left Ukraine and traveled to her husband in France.