Maria Gaidar becomes a Deputy Governor of OdessaJanuary 17, 2016
Having not mentioned the domestic politics of Odessa for some time, simply because the festive season brought everything overt to a stop, and even the opaque slowed considerably, the first major local change has arrived.
With Governor Saakashvili and entourage now flitting between Odessa and city stop tours around Ukraine promoting his anti-corruption movement, naturally a safe, responsible, politically accomplished, and diplomatic pair of hands are required to mind the shop.
As First Deputy Governor Vladimir Zhmak does not fit that description – albeit he is fiercely loyal to the Governor – somebody that does fit that bill is required.
Maria Gaidar, a long term adviser to the Governor, and since October 2015 an Oblast Deputy for the Solidarity Party, has now been appointed Odessa Deputy Governor too, and thus now holds an unofficially official post of “High Chamberlain” within the inner conclave of those surrounding Governor Saakashvili as well as several other democratic local governance chambers.
She intends to continue to act as an Oblast Deputy, a role to which she was elected, as well as Deputy Governor. Indeed she has been quite clear (most recently in a TV interview on 30th December) that if the law prevented holding both posts, she would remain in her elected role and refuse the Deputy Governor appointment.
There is however, nothing within the current law, nor the law reforming the civil service that comes into effect in May this year, that would prevent it. Dual posts cannot be held by what will be termed “Category A” civil servants from May, but neither Deputy Governor, nor Oblast Deputy are “Category A” roles, thus she is free to hold both – and is certainly capable of doing so without detriment to either.
Of all the appointments made by Governor Saakashvili, some have been good and some not so good – and there are one or two poor decisions too – Ms Gaidar, along with Giorgi Lortkipanidze, have proven to be particularly shrewd. Both are extremely capable in their roles, apply the “less is more” approach to the media whilst still maintaining easy access, and seem to have a clear-eyed ability when it comes to prioritising and proportionality in their work.
Will Odessa be a better place for the appointment of Ms Gaidar as Deputy Governor? Probably. It certainly won’t be a worse place for it.