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Saakashvili Denied Refugee Status in Ukraine

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 5
(KYIV)--The Kyiv Regional Court did not annul the refusal of Ukraine's Immigration Service to grant Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili a status of a refugee or a person who needs additional protection being deprived of the Ukrainian citizenship.

Refusing the status means that Saakashvili, Georgia’s third President and former governor of Odessa, may be extradited to Georgia.

Saakashvili, one-time ally of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, is expected to appeal the verdict to the Court of Appeals.

In early December 2017, a district court in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv rejected a motion by the country’s Prosecutor General to hold Saakashvili in the pre-trial detention and ordered his immediate release.

Saakashvili hailed the decision, while claiming he has enjoyed the huge public support that would translate into increased pressure on Ukraine’s President Poroshenko.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s Office appealed the verdict and the Court of Appeals is scheduled to discuss the case on January 11.

Saakashvili served as Georgia’s President for a decade, but left the country in 2013, as soon as his presidential term expired.

In 2015, he was appointed as a governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region by his then-ally, Poroshenko.

The two later fell out amid the accusations by Saakashvili that the presidential administration was intentionally hindering his reform projects and was involved in the widespread corruption schemes connected to organized crime gangs in Odessa and Moscow.

Saakashvili resigned from his post in November 2016 and was later stripped by Poroshenko of the Ukrainian citizenship that was granted to Saakashvili by Presidential decree when he took up the post a year earlier. The decision left Georgia’s third President stateless as his Georgian citizenship was revoked in 2015 due to the violation of Georgia’s dual citizenship laws by receiving the Ukrainian passport.

In Georgia, Saakashvili is accused of the violent dispersal of anti-government mass protests on November 7, 2007; unlawful raiding of the Imedi TV Company by police; illegal take-over of the property owned by the late media tycoon Badri (Arkadi) Patarkatsishvili.

If extradited, Georgia’s former President will face an immediate detention.