Appointing Georgian ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili the head of Ukraine’s Odessa region is a “spit in the face” to the Ukrainian people, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
“In my opinion, this is a spit in the face to the Ukrainian people. Not only did they [the government] place Ukraine under external control, but also delegated power to these so-called ‘political figures’,” Putin told reporters.
Saakashvili, a fugitive from prosecution in his homeland of Georgia, was granted Ukrainian citizenship and appointed the governor of the Odessa Region in May.
Saakashvili served as Georgia’s president from 2004 to 2013. His rule was largely criticized at home for authoritarianism. In 2013, he was barred from seeking another presidential term and left for the United States to pursue a lecturing career at Tufts University. In summer 2014, a Georgian court charged him with abuse of power and misappropriation of public funds.