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How Western media explain Saakashvili-related protests in Ukraine

Author : Per Anders Johansen

According to the most of the polls, Poroshenko’s support is smaller than support of former President Viktor Yanukovych before Maidan
09:32, 14 December 2017

Read the original text at Aftenposten.

Reuters

According to independent media like Kyiv Post, about 18,000 people participated in Sunday's demonstration.

The Georgian ex-president Mikheil Saakashvilis supporters claim there were 50,000 of them.

Now, similar demonstrations are announced to be held every Sunday. Either way, it has been a long time since so many people have not gone to the streets of Ukraine.

Related: Useful lesson for society and politicians: Mikheil Saakashvili trial

  1. Why do the demonstrations come now?

Two things happened last week which makes the situation more excited in Kyiv now:

The Georgian ex-president, who fired from the post of the governor of Odesa, was arrested on Friday during his fierce campaign. So far, Saakashvili had a very limited support. After several months of meetings and campaigns, he was supported by some 1-2 percent of the respondents.

Last week, he threatened to jump from the roof when Ukrainian police tried arrest him, incriminating him receiving money from Russia to plan a coup.

“I am Putin's greatest enemy. People who believe in the allegations are idiots,” Saakashvili said in court on Monday.

Related: I meet colossal pressure in Saakashvili case, - Prosecutor General

The judge denied the prosecutor's claim to custody him. The prosecutor then asked for house arrest while the investigation was in progress, but the judge refused.

The arrest of Saakashvili and the charges that he will be funded by Russia, nevertheless, helps to increase the tension.

However, most Ukrainians agree with Saakashvili about one thing: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has hardly ever received any results.

  1. Why is Poroshenko so unpopular?

Two weeks ago, Poroshenko's Attorney General stopped a large and carefully planned action under the aegis of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the US FBI. Instead of arresting the corruption officers of the politicians and bureaucrats, Ukrainian police ordered orders from the people of Poroshenko to arrest the agent and make a raid at the NABU corruption hunters. Several Ukrainian politicians escaped and the entire campaign was destroyed, which provoked strong reactions in Ukraine, the EU, and the United States. This is just one of several issues in recent weeks and months that reinforces the impression that Poroshenko protects all-encompassing corruption in Ukraine.

Related: Saakashvili to continue his political activity

Many of the 18,000 who went out to the streets one Sunday are mad at Poroshenko, and are not necessarily strong followers of Saakashvili. 77 percent of Ukrainians demanded that Poroshenko has failed to achieve even a single successful reform.

"The measurements show the population does not see any significant progress," says researcher Andriy Sukharin in his interview with Hromadske radio.

  1. Why is the EU and the US increasingly critical of the President of Ukraine?

According to the most of the polls, Poroshenko’s support is smaller than support of former President Viktor Yanukovych before Maidan, which started four years ago.

Håkon Mosvold Larsen/ NTB scanpix

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the Attorney General, with almost unlimited power and 45,000 employees, have started a crusade against Ukraine's small anti-corruption authority with fewer 700 employees, as stated by Maxim Eristavi, commentator from the Atlantic Council in The Washington Post. “It's time for the West to be tough against Ukraine.”

Bloomberg commentator Leonid Bershidsky  has said that "the West has supported the wrong man in Ukraine".

Related: Russian special services trying to get to Saakashvili, Dangadze, - prosecution

An increasing number of Ukrainians are experiencing the President as part of the problem - not the solution:

Are Ukrainians interested in new street protests after 4 years after the Maidan?

Are you interested in taking part in protest actions in the near future in your city? – Ukrainians answered:

Yes - 6%

Rather, yes - 20%

Rather, no - 37.5%

No - 26%

Source: Foundation for Democratic Initiatives / Kyiv International Institute of Sociology

  1. What will happen in Ukraine now?

Although the big Sunday demonstration caused associations with Maidan, all this is far from the mass demonstrations that led to the dramatic events of February and March 2014.

Currently, only a small minority of Ukrainians still want to go out with protests to the streets. Here is how Ukrainians answer the question about what is the main obstacle to reforms in Ukraine.

Bureaucracy of the state apparatus - 35%

The oligarchs - 34%

The President - 25.7%

Source: Foundation for Democratic Initiatives / Kyiv International Institute of Sociology

The question of whether to hold new elections in Ukraine earlier than planned is hiding behind political intrigues in the Ukrainian parliament.

Related: Tymoshenko is ready to bail Saakashvili

Saakashvili enjoys the support of the former prime minister, oligarch and leader of the party of Yulia Tymoshenko. Her party "Fatherland" and the nationalists intend to succeed if Poroshenko is forced to announce the holding of new elections in the spring.

For four years, Ukraine has failed to create new democratic parties, not associated with various powerful groups of oligarchs. It was Poroshenko who in 2015 appointed the former Georgian president as governor of Odesa region in Ukraine. In the summer, Saakashvili was expelled from Ukraine, but his supporters helped him break through the border and return.

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