UKIP MEP Addresses Pro-EU Demonstrators Alongside Saakashvili In Kyiv

Events in Ukraine are unfolding quickly. Yesterday’s bungled attempt to take opposition politician Mikheil Saakashvili into custody in Kyiv led to a massive and highly orchestrated demonstration that managed to stop the small convoy transporting him from his home in its tracks. 

After a stand-off in which the vehicles were unable to move, Saakashvili was retrieved from the back of a people carrier - after first having given interviews through a smashed window - and removed swiftly and professionally from the scene with the police having been outflanked, outwitted, and outnumbered.

The action moved quickly to a manifestation on the steps of Verkhovna Rada - the Ukrainian Parliament - where the former President of Georgia (and former Governor of Odessa) addressed a large crowd of anti-government protesters.

By his side, somewhat astonishingly, was British eurosceptic MEP Jane Collins.

Addressing the crowd she declared, somewhat curiously, 

“But what was today? It was your victory, the victory of Mikheil, and the victory of human rights in Ukraine, as well as the defeat of your government in democracy…”

She went on to urge those present to support Saakashvili, because he "will be able to give you the changes you seek… Democracy in Ukraine will win and you will be accepted into the EU.” 

This support for Ukraine’s accession to the EU will come as something of a surprise to her constituency in the UK, as her party, UKIP, has always been opposed to enlargement of the EU - she herself voted against the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement - and always opposed membership of the EU.

These are views she has always been happy to share with an eastern-European Audience in the past.

Collins is a former candidate for the leadership of UKIP, a position held for the most part by fellow MEP Nigel Farage, once described by Russian state controlled RT (Russia Today) as their "favourite British politician". Farage was once reported to be under consideration for his own show on the channel.

In March 2016, Collins was interviewed by RT: she used the platform to complain about Barack Obama, who was due to visit the UK the following month. It was being speculated at the time, correctly as it transpired, that he would use his visit to urge the UK to vote to remain a part of the EU. 

“President Obama is welcome to come to the UK and say what he likes – it is freedom of speech; but he has no right to try and influence a referendum on a British exit from the EU”, she said.

Another Russian state controlled mouthpiece, Sputnik,  referring to Collins as an “Anti-European Union party UKIP employment spokeswoman”, quoted her in an article in February 2016 attacking then Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to negotiate with the EU in order to stave off Brexit as “trivial”.

There is much speculation today over possible Russian involvement in Saakashvili’s “rescue” yesterday: certainly the operation carried all the hallmarks of the Spetznaz (Russian special forces).

But given the Kremlin’s desire to see the collapse of the EU, which it sees as a major threat, why would Russia support a pro-EU politician in Ukraine? The answer is simple -destabilisation.

It is worth remembering also, that despite the good he did achieve during his tenure as President of Georgia, by the time Saakashvili left office much of the north of the country had been seized by the Russian military on the false pretext of defending the rights of Russian speakers: the same “justification” was later used for military intervention and the subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea.

Original source for image/quotes

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

He is a of member the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK, and the oldest in the world having been founded in October 1884

Gary's most recent book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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