- - Sunday, December 31, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As an employee of Georgian President Poroshenko, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze has every political and material incentive to distort the truth about former President Mikheil Saakashvili (“Not the reformer Ukraine needs,” Web, Dec. 26).

I had the privilege of working in Georgia while Mr. Saakashvili was president, traveling to Ukraine many times for field research and meeting Mr. Saakashvili and his team in formal and informal situations. Unfortunately, I also saw firsthand the corruption he constantly risked his life to fight.

Over the past few months, the situation in Ukraine has deteriorated. Polling by the International Repubican Institute shows that Ukrainians consider corruption an even more serious problem than the war in the Donbas. And European media and international organizations consistently name Mr. Poroshenko as the most corrupt leader in Europe and Ukraine as the most corrupt country. To make matters worse, the government recently attempted to dismantle the independent anti-corruption bureau.

Mr. Saakashvili himself has also been a target of the government for his anti-corruption crusade. He attempted to reform Odessa when he was governor but ran into opposition from government officials who materially benefited from the system. The lack of political will at the top (Mr. Poroshenko’s administration) thwarted his efforts at reform. His citizenship was revoked unlawfully, leaving him stateless, which was an infringement on his human rights. His recent arrest was also politically motivated and a Ukrainian judge actually released him because she ruled the charges against him were groundless.

Moreover, Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze’s op-ed contains a false claim: that Mr. Saakashvili’s movement is funded by pro-Russian oligarchs. Mr. Saakashvili has emphatically denied these claims, and no evidence has been produced by the government to support them. Mr. Saakashvili’s movement is funded by thousands of people like me: small-dollar donors who give online, and dedicated volunteers.

I wholeheartedly support a democratic, transparent and prosperous Ukraine. Democracies should not engage in politically motivated persecution of opposition leaders. I respectfully request that The Washington Times publishes the other perspective to enable readers to come to their own conclusions.

CHRISTINA PUSHAW

Alexandria

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