Letter From the Editors: Dec. 4 - 10, 2017

Author: Laurence Bogoslaw

Putin’s Election Bid: With ‘Friends’ Like His, Who Needs Enthusiastic Voters?

"He’s flamboyant, and people like that: [They like] action, showdowns, conflicts, accusations. He distracts people from serious, global issues and problems.. .. If the authorities had wanted to, they would have expelled him from the country long ago." - Anatoly Oktisyuk, Democracy House political analyst.

Hmm, what political leader is being talked about here? Actually, not the one likely to come to mind for American readers. Oktisyuk is talking about Mikhail Saakashvili - the firebrand reformer who ascended to power in Georgia’s Rose Revolution; descended when the Georgian Dream party swept the elections; took on a new political life when Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko appointed him governor of Odessa Province; and descended again when Poroshenko dismissed him, later stripping him of Ukrainian citizenship.

Despite the obvious biographical differences, Saakashvili does have a few notable things in common with the US’s fearless leader, in addition to a "flamboyant" personality. First, the Georgian ex-president tends to bounce back from defeat: After becoming stateless, he managed to reenter Ukraine and mount an impressive protest movement, complete with powerful supporters, rallies and a tent camp. Second, he tends to say and do rash things under pressure: When Ukrainian Security Service investigators surprised him in his apartment on Dec. 5, he climbed up to the roof of the building and threatened to jump off. And that brings us to the third, most timely, similarity: Saakashvili is currently suspected of collusion with the Kremlin (which is why the investigators went after him).

The Russian-American collusion saga has also taken on new life this week. There is new evidence suggesting that when Trump adviser Michael Flynn made advance assurances to Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016 that sanctions might be lifted, he may have been directed to do so by Trump himself. Vladimir Frolov puts credence ...

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