Deniz Berktay / Kiev, July 8 () - A dismissed Ukrainian official has accused former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of defending the interests of a Turkish firm.
Saakashvili, who is now serving as a new governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, slammed Denis Antonyuk, then president of Ukraine’s state-owned airline operator, during a meeting of the country’s aviation authority on June 26, accusing him of corruption.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had announced Antonyuk would be dismissed, in a move that would only be formalized with a cabinet motion on July 1. Antonyuk had fired back by filing a criminal complaint against Saakashvili.
Writing to Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor Victor Shokin, Antonyuk said the former Georgian president had no legal right to attend the aviation authority’s meeting. Furthermore, he argued, Saakashvili defended the rights of a Turkish firm and oligarch Igor Kolomoysky’s Ukrainian International Airlines (MAU).
The report did not mention the name of the Turkish company. Largely in the construction sector, Turkish companies have scores of major investments in Ukraine worth more than $2 billion.
Long conflict with Russia
Ukraine on July 8 reported the death of two soldiers and was blamed by pro-Russian rebels for killing a civilian in fighting that followed another failed round of EU-mediated peace talks.
The seemingly-stalemated crisis has killed more than 6,500 people and reintroduced a Cold War-era chill in Moscow’s relations with the West.
Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s last meeting in his second term, which was held with then Georgian counterpart Saakashvili on Feb. 22, 2008, was on aviation regulations between the two countries.
Soon afterward, a series of clashes occurred between Georgian and South Ossetian forces, before the Russian military intervened forcefully.
Saakashvili lost Georgia’s parliamentary election in 2012 and was barred from seeking a third term in the 2013 presidential election. He was residing in the United States before accepting Ukraine’s offer of a public office in Odessa, near Crimea in the Black Sea region.