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Odessa region governor accuses Interior Minister of controlling paramilitary groupings

Mikheil Saakashvili accused Arsen Avakov of making direct threats to him
 Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (center) EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (center)

KIEV, December 15. /TASS/. Governor of Ukraine's Odessa region and former president of Georgia, Mikheil  Saakashvili, who had a public quarrel with Interior Minister Arsen Avakov at a session of the National Council for Reforms on Monday, told a special news conference his opponent was exercising direct control over paramilitary formations in the country.

Avakov splashed water into Saakashvili's face after the latter man had hurled insults on him. Reports also said Avakov and Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk told Saakashvili to get out of Ukraine.

"He [Avakov - TASS] not only took the liberty of obscene speech towards me," Saakashvili told a news conference. "He dared to make absolutely direct threats to me. This is a man who exercises practical control over paramilitary units."

He added that Avakov had charged him with corruption and abuses of office. "I was accused of allegedly stealing billions (of Ukrainian hrivnyas - TASS) and told to get out his native Ukraine," he said.

In addition, he complained that Prime Minister Yatsenyuk had called him "a touring performer" and had also told him to clear off.

"Here's something I'd like to tell Yatsenyuk who calls me a touring performer," Saakashvili said. "I'm not going to get out of here or go anywhere. I won't let them rob Ukraine, which I love so passionately."

He claimed he had hit one of Yatsenyuk cabinet's sorest spots with revelations about the involvement of the Prime Minister and his inner circle in embezzlement schemes around the privatization of the Odessa port-side chemical plant.

"I don't have any doubts that, sadly enough, the Prime Minister is involved in an immediate way in all these schemes," Saakashvili said, adding that he hoped for President Petro Poroshenko's "fair and principled stance on the problem.".