WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Odessa oblast, or province, is governed with absolute power by former Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili who was widely criticized during his tenure in his native country for authoritarian tendencies, corruption and widespread electoral fraud.
“[O]ur objective was to turn Odessa into the anti-corruption capital not just of Ukraine, but of the entire world,” Brownfield told a teleconferenced press briefing at the State Department on Tuesday.
Saakashvili, with full US approval, has fired the entire previous police force of Odessa and replaced them with new units of his own selection, Brownfield confirmed.
“The existing… police of the Odessa Oblast are retired out and the new patrol police come in to replace them. “[W]hat I saw in Odessa was an exceptionally professional training operation.”
The 200 Ukrainian trainers of the new Odessa force were themselves very rapidly “trained up by California Highway Patrol and Reno and Dayton police departments in the early months of this year,” Brownfield said.
The State Department official expressed his optimism that in only three months, the inexperienced new Ukrainian trainers would produce “a trained cadre” of police officers ready to deploy in the course of the next three months for Odessa.
“I can say with absolute certainty the following: that the society, the culture, the communities of… Ukraine are likely to be more secure and better governed if they have properly trained professional police rather than the police that they had before. [T]hat statement I am quite comfortable making.”
Brownfield, however, acknowledged that the Odessa area has deep-seated corruption issues.
He expressed hope the old police forces of Odessa, Kharkiv and Lviv would all be fully replaced by the end of 2015.