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EuroMaidan activists protest in Odessa against Russian-born vice governor

July 20, 2015, 14:59 UTC+3 ODESSA
They consider the decision of Saakashvili to appoint Gaidar his deputy an extremely bad idea, saying worthy candidates could be found among Ukrainian nationals and residents of the Odessa region
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Maria Gaidar

Maria Gaidar

© TASS/Anton Novoderezhkin

ODESSA, July 20. /TASS/. Activists of EuroMaidan staged a demonstration on Monday in front of the regional administration building in Odessa, protesting against the appointment of Russian opposition activist Maria Gaidar as vice governor of Ukraine’s southern Odessa region.

"We consider the decision of [Governor] Mikheil Saakashvili to appoint Gaidar his deputy an extremely bad idea. We believe worthy candidates to this position could be found among Ukrainian nationals and residents of the Odessa region," their leaders said.

Participants in the action are carrying Ukrainian flags and banners with the words "Masha [Maria] does not belong here" written on them, and intend to continue the action until Saakashvili meets with them. Earlier, the former governor of the region, Mykola Skorik, criticized the appointment as a PR action.

"The region does not need Russian oppositionists, populism and talkie-talkie, it needs practical work," Skorik told reporters, saying "the activity of new governor [and former Georgian president Mikhail] Saakashvili is aimed only at PR actions and self-promotion," instead of settlement of the problems facing the region.

"There is no practical work, just one long news conference, populism and show," he said.

"The trend is clear, but what will Odessa region residents get from it?" he asked.

The former Georgian president announced the appointment earlier on Friday. According to Saakashvili, Maria Gaidar will be responsible for the social sphere. "She is economist, she studied at the Academy of National Economy in Moscow and Harvard University," he said.

"I knew her father Yegor Gaidar and respected him a lot. She moved to Odessa and will work at our administration. And we appeal to the Ukrainian president to grant her the Ukrainian citizenship," the Odessa region governor added.

Gaidar is the daughter of the late Egor Gaidar, a member of the government formed by Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin.

Maria Gaidar represents the so-called "non-systemic opposition" in Russia. She is the former vice-governor of Russia’s Kirov region and the head of the Social Inquiry foundation. In 2014, she intended to run in elections to the Moscow State Duma but was not registered as a candidate. Gaidar is an active participant in a number of liberal pro-Western movements in Russia. In 2011, she studied at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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