Eka Zguladze, who served as Georgia’s deputy interior minister under ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, is expected to become a second former Georgian official to take senior government post in Ukraine after ex-healthcare minister Alexander Kvitashvili took the same post in Ukraine earlier this month.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko granted Zguladze Ukrainian citizenship on December 13 and said that she is a candidate for the post of the first deputy interior minister, expressing hope that she will help to eradicate corruption in Ukrainian traffic police.
Підписав Указ про надання громадянства України претендентці на посаду першого заступника МВС - пані Згуладзе pic.twitter.com/Z3Z6YLLiL7— Петро Порошенко (@poroshenko) December 13, 2014
“As the President, I count on you. I hope that your unique role in the government will allow transforming the Soviet system of the Ministry of the Interior into the European system,” President Poroshenko told Zguladze after granting citizenship to her.
“I hope that after the reformation, Ukrainian traffic police officers will stop taking bribes just as it was done in Georgia,” the Ukrainian President added.
Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote on Facebook on December 12 that after finalizing formal procedures over citizenship, he would ask the cabinet to appoint Zguladze as first deputy interior minister next week.
Zguladze, 36, held the post of deputy interior minister in Georgia in 2006-20012.
Appointment of former Georgian officials, who served under ex-president Saakashvili’s administration, in the Ukrainian government has not been welcomed in Tbilisi.
Commenting on possible appointment of Zguladze as Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, leader of the Georgian Dream majority group in Parliament, MP Davit Saganelidze, said: “Ukraine, which I love so much, really deserves better ministers.”
“No matter how much we try not to notice, it will anyway stain to some extent relations [between Georgia and Ukraine],” GD MP Saganelidze said.
When consultations about forming the new government were still ongoing among Ukrainian politicians, reports emerged in late November about possible nomination of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is facing criminal charges in Georgia and is wanted by the Georgian authorities, as Ukraine’s deputy prime minister; Saakashvili said at the time that he declined the offer as he did not want to lose Georgian citizenship by obtaining Ukrainian one.
Asked about the issue, PM Irakli Garibashvili said at a news conference on December 9 that even the fact that possible appointment of a person, who is wanted by Georgia, was discussed by the Ukrainian authorities is “regrettable.” Garibashvili also said that “work is underway to prepare” his visit to Ukraine either in January or February.