April 22, 2018

Stateless ex-leader Saakashvili boards train to Ukraine

12 September 2017, 12:13 | Rufus Hill

Former Georgian President Breaks Through Ukrainian Checkpoint After He Was Refused Entry by Train

The ex-Georgian president Saakashvili forced the Ukraine to participate in the elections

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president, entered Ukraine on Sunday despite being barred from the country, according to media reports.

In July 2017, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili, who was appointed the Odessa region governor in May 2015, of his Ukrainian citizenship.

To the cry of "Misha, Misha, Misha", the army of Saakashvili's supporters (according to reporters on the ground, majority were activists of Saakashvili's party) viciously broke through the live cordon, violating the border, to bring Mikheil Saakashvili into the country while singing Ukrainian anthem.

Saakashvili's relationship with Poroshenko dates back almost three decades to when they were students at the same university in Kiev and their shared opposition to the Kremlin later brought them together as politicians. It is highly probable that Tymoshenko and Saakashvili will not make a lasting alliance: their personal ambitions, populist talent and not very promising record in the past raise the suggestion that they got together just to make Poroshenko even angrier. He had been in Ukraine since 2012, after the rise of pro-Russian politicians in Georgia who charged him with abuse of power due to his imprisonment of Georgian opposition figures on corruption charges.

"We believe in the fact that Mikheil Saakashvili can lead our country out of the crisis", supporter Lyudmyla Goretska told France24.

"A crime has been committed", Mr Poroshenko said earlier on Monday. Ukrainian Member of Parliament Ivan Krulko, cited by BBC, said the guards had allowed Saakashvili into the country.

He has brandished his Ukrainian passport on several occasions and also maintains that officials working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva have confirmed his status as "stateless in Ukraine", meaning he has the right to be there to appeal against Poroshenko's decision to withdraw his citizenship.

"Now this is a matter of law enforcement agencies and they have begun to act", Poroshenko said.

The Ukrainian president added that he would respect any court ruling for Saakashvili.

Hundreds of Saakashvili supporters broke through a police block and burst into the neutral zone where they paraded victorious with Saakashvili into Ukraine, cheering his nickname "Misha" and "glory to Ukraine". "We see what he did in his own country (Georgia) and that's enough for us".

"It looks like [Poroshenko] is getting rid of a political opponent".

Saakashvili may yet face arrest.

Georgia has requested his extradition.

Saakashvili took power in Georgia after a peaceful uprising, known as the Rose Revolution, in 2003.

Prosecutor-General Yuri Lutsenko said late Sunday that charges would be pursued against organizers of Saakashvili's unauthorized entry.

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