Controversial as he is back home, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili seems to have found a receptive audience in Ukraine. There now have been two Misha sightings in Kyiv; the latest on February 23 when he popped up to congratulate Ukraine on giving the boot to President Viktor Yanukovich and his plans to keep Ukraine aligned with Russia.
“The Russian Empire has ended its existence right here, in this very place,” Saakashvili thundered in Ukrainian to a street gathering, outlets reported. That line might sound like old hat for Misha. But the revolution in Ukraine is a bit personal.
For one, it has offered him an opportunity to become relevant again. Tbilisi's measured response to the Ukrainian crisis has disappointed many Georgians, who strongly believe the struggle mirrors Georgia's own tug-of-war with Russia. (Particularly after the death of two Georgians -- for reasons under investigation -- during the protests.) Consequently, even some Misha critics have wished of late for "a Misha moment" of impassioned oratory in support of the Ukrainian protesters.
Leave it to Georgia's ex-president, a public speaker to the bone, to step up to the plate.
And in writing, too. In a recent piece for Politico, he shared his recipe for a successful revolution, and called on the US and Europe to help Ukraine create a working government and keep Moscow in check.
Granted, some self-gratification might play a role here, too. The Ukrainian revolution is a major defeat for Saakashvili’s longtime foe, Vladimir Putin. It also provides Misha with a degree of justification for allegedly, as he claimed to BuzzFeed last year, backing the opposition to Yanukovich.
Ultimately, though, for Saakashvili, these protests are another episode in the story of pro-Western color revolutions of which his 2003 Rose Revolution was the
start. To most of the outside world, that story has lost much of its luster. But for this 46-year-old former statesman, the tale has just begun.