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Ukraine strips Saakashvili of citizenship

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, July 28
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stripped former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship on Wednesday while the latter was visiting the United States.

Saakashvili was the third president of Georgia in 2004-2007 and again from 2008-2013. In 2012, Saakashvili’s United National Movement lost the parliamentary elections against Georgian Dream (GD) Coalition and became the main opposition party.

Saakashvili was officially charged in Georgia in 2014, however, by the time his case went through to court he was already in Ukraine.

Poroshenko granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, prior to appointing him as the Governor of Odessa.

In December 2015, Georgian authorities stripped Saakashvili of Georgian citizenship, as dual citizenship is not allowed in Georgia.

In November 2016, Saakashvili quit his post and formed an opposition party and was seen heavily criticizing the Ukrainian authorities, which led to a disagreement between Poroshenko and the ex-Georgian President.

Now that Saakashvili is without citizenship, if he returns to Ukraine he will be deported to Georgia and held responsible for various charges. He has denied the charges and alleges they are politically motivated.

Saakashvili commented on Poroshenko’s decision, saying the President of Ukraine had crossed a “red line”.

“Now, doubtless, you, as was the case with your predecessor, will be tempted to try and hold on to power at any price. You may try this, just remember, they are waiting for you in Russia. Ukrainians have twice dealt with this pestilence and they will not stop until they bring truly new politicians to power,” Saakashvili addressed Poroshenko via his Facebook post.

He added that his aim was to make Ukraine successful country and a member of the European Union.

“Now there is an attempt under way to force me to become a refugee. This will not happen! I will not remain anywhere else and will not change status! I will fight for my legal right to return to Ukraine,” he stressed.

Ukrainian media reports that the State Migration Service has said that the reason why Saakashvili was deprived of citizenship was the fact that he had submitted incorrect information when he applied for citizenship in 2015. He said that he was not under investigation in Ukraine or abroad, while in fact he was being investigated in Georgia for various charges.

Georgia’s Minister of refugees, Sozar Subari says that Ukraine has “made the right decision”.

“I am sure what happened was legal…I hope Saakashvili will be held responsible for his charges and will serve his sentence in a Georgian prison,” Subari stressed.

In particular, the ex-President is wanted in Georgia on three main charges: the violent dispersal of anti-government mass protests on November 7 2007; the unlawful raiding of the Imedi TV company by riot police; and the illegal take-over of property owned by the late media tycoon, Badri Patarkatsishvili.