Archive for September 10th, 2017


The Misha Circus – Part Deux

September 10, 2017

Following on from the previous entry, Misha Saakashvili managed to enter Ukrainian territory – by force, as stated several times could very well be the outcome – and at the time of writing has disappeared in the direction of Lviv.

As the State does not recognise the validity of his Ukrainian passport, a reader is left to ponder whether he was issued with stateless person documentation at the border crossing – although as he was forcibly given access to Ukraine by his supporters, that is perhaps unlikely.

That said, it is also possible that his parliamentary supporters – be they genuine supporters, be they anti-Poroshenko, or simply acting in their own personal interests (Ms Tymoshenko) who cares not for either man if truth be told – are capable of belatedly acquiring such documentation.

As the above linked entry stated, “…….there will be many that take the view that any such interference in the border guards carrying out their duties will represent an even weaker grasp upon the rule of law than many currently perceive.  Alternatively others will take the view that the State decision is unlawful and therefore attempting to enforce it should be overcome “by whatever means” in the absence of judicial ruling in Mr Saakashvili’s favour.”

Whether a reader believes a wrong has been righted – or not – the rule of law has suffered another blow.

Even if the “ends” are rightful, the “means” are not when judicial process and remedy is simply ignored.

Thus for many outside the 2% of pollers that support Mr Saakashvili and his political party, what has always appeared to be a weak grasp upon the rule of law, has witnessed another finger prized off of it.  That grip is now perceived as even more tenuous and feeble.

To be fair to the State Border Service of Ukraine, having even gone to the dubious but not unexpected lengths of claiming an undoubtedly false bomb scare at the border crossing thus closing it (a claim that is standard fare when stopping court trials for the same reason) there was little more they could have done at the scene to prevent a circus extending beyond farce by any disproportionate action.  This disaster to the image of Ukrainian is not of their making.

So what now Misha and the circus that inevitably surrounds him is back in town?

As always, the parliamentarians with immunity (and impunity) will face no repercussions.  Those citizens involved will no doubt, rightly, be investigated for any crimes committed facilitating Mr Saakashvili’s entry.  To simply ignore such actions would yet further undermine the rule of law.  It cannot be allowed to pass without ramifications for those involved.

Clearly Misha Saakashvili is not going to disappear behind enemy lines.  He will exhaust this incident for every molecule of PR he can before the effect fades and new headlining grabbing stunts are required.

As far as the State is concerned, in the absence of stateless person documentation, Mr Saakashvili is illegally within the territory of Ukraine and is therefore liable for detention while due process regarding his status and future occurs.

Georgia has also filed an official extradition request with Ukraine – which Ukraine has officially acknowledged as receiving.

Thus Mr Saakashvili is also liable for detention while extradition proceedings occur and a decision on his removal to Georgia to face trial is made.

A failure to do either of these things makes President Poroshenko appear even weaker than he already does now that Misha Saakashvili has forcibly entered Ukraine, despite robust assurances that he would be repelled at the border.

There may or may not be a polling  blip for Misha Saakashvili as a result of this incident, and if there is the sustainability of that blip will be very much open to question.  He may equally lose support having entered by force without first having exhausted all legal options.  The sanctity of State borders is a very sensitive subject with the Ukrainian constituency.  However this incident is certainly not going to add voters for President Poroshenko unless Mr Saakashvili is swiftly detained on the one hand, and on the other the detention of Mr Saakashvili may also lose him votes too.

Further Ms Tymoshenko will be able to publicly reminisce about being persecuted and incarcerated by a Ukrainian President, projecting herself onto Misha’s fate, while comparing President Poroshenko with former-President Yanukovych.  She will get to play nostalgic victim by proxy, and simultaneously equate President Poroshenko to an overthrown would-be dictator.  However if it becomes clear that being involved in violating the Ukrainian border will suffer political costs having misjudged public sensitivities over border sanctity – she will seek to distance herself fairly swiftly.

As stated in the above linked entry of yesterday – “perhaps the worst possible outcome for both Misha Saakashvili, President Poroshenko and Ukraine by extension (of both international and domestic perception), would be his detention, a drawn out extradition process, and an eventual result of extradition being granted.”

It is fairly safe to presume no embassy in Kyiv is going to allow an Assange-esque, diplomatic immunity assured residence from whence Mr Saakashvili can preach (not that he would seek one), so his detention will surely come if anything of the rule of law, and the processes within, and international obligations are to be adhered to.

Is there a compromise between a former-Georgian President and a current Ukrainian President, neither of whom either forgive or forget, and both of whom deliver vengeance when the opportunity presents?

Any such compromise is clearly very unlikely.  Indeed any compromise found may deliver both men an equal defeat, rather than an equal victory – at least as far as the immediate future is concerned.

The completion and acceptance of stateless person documentation for Mr Saakashvili would allow for his remaining in Ukraine while he goes through the judicial motions of regaining his Ukrainian citizenship – and perhaps simultaneously fighting extradition to Georgia.

However, Ukrainian law allows only Ukrainian citizens to be members of Ukrainian political parties.  Therefore Misha Saakashvili could officially no longer be a member of his own party.

That he could not run for president or parliament is somewhat irrelevant owing to the fact that at the time of the next elections he would be constitutionally barred anyway – by virtue of not being a Ukrainian citizen for the constitutionally required number of years.

President Poroshenko would suffer a stateless, but nevertheless not a Ukrainian Misha Saakashvili, who officially and legally was not able to be part of any political party.  However that does not prevent Mr Saakashvili from publicly politicking.  Perhaps he reached agreement with Ihor Kolomoisky about appearing across his media empire when the met in Switzerland a few days ago – perhaps not.  (Ms Tymoshenko appears to have had some success with her flirtations in Austria with Dmitry Firtash and access to Inter.)

It would be a desperate compromise for either man perhaps.  But other compromises and ways to facilitate one appear few.

In the absence of any compromise, to add complications, President Poroshenko’s very cool relations with Interior Minister Avakov may yet see one or the other deliberately fumble and/or sabotage the detention of Misha Saakashvili.  Georgia is not about to cancel its extradition request (even if it perhaps doesn’t really want him back) whatever unlikely compromise may be found domestically.  The political home of Arsen Avakov come the next elections is unclear.

However both men clearly dislike Misha Saakashvili, and that dislike is most certainly reciprocated toward both men.  One is the minister most associated with rule of law (or the weak and/or selective grasp upon it) and the other as President is perceived as responsible for everything (despite the fact there are clear constitutional limitations upon his responsibilities – limitations by which he is perceived not abide) so there is a mutual dependence when it comes to dealing and detaining Mr Saakashvili.

Perhaps therefore any detention fumble would be unintentional – but unlikely to be understood that way by the other.

To belatedly tell Georgia their extradition request somehow falls short of what is required and/or fails an obscure bureaucratic necessity seems unlikely – and would be a temporary measure pending a Georgian re-submission.

Mr Saakashvili may not have parachuted in behind enemy lines, but rather bulldozed his return into Ukraine with use of force by his supporters against the Ukrainian Border Service personnel, however this unsightly circus is still far from over, and still has the potential to stretch far beyond the limitations of both circus and farce and plunge headlong into absurdity.

If the events of 10th September left nobody looking particularly good as a result, the consequences, decisions and actions now required have the potential to make all those involved simply look ridiculous – or bad – or both.

A mess just got much more messier and a weak State authority just got weaker, and it remains to be seen whether Misha Saakshvili will get any more popular either.


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