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Ukraine Deports Saakashvili to Poland

The former Georgian president was unceremoniously hustled out of the country yesterday after weeks of goading the government.

13 February 2018

Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to keep being involved in Ukrainian politics from abroad, following his deportation.

 

The former Georgian president and Ukrainian regional governor spoke to the press in Warsaw today, a day after he was detained by masked men in a Kyiv restaurant and hurriedly put on a plane. The forcible deportation was against international laws, The Associated Press cites him as saying.

 

Reuters quotes Ukrainian border service spokesman Oleh Slobodyan’s Facebook post, saying: “This person was on Ukrainian territory illegally and therefore, in compliance with all legal procedures, he was returned to the country from where he arrived.”


Saakashvili during a press conference in Warsaw on 13 February. Screenshot from a video posted on Mikheil Sakashvili's Facebook page.

 

Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in July 2017, while out of the country after accusing President Petro Poroshenko of running a corrupt regime. He forced his way back across the Polish border in September, setting off a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities in the following weeks that included a dramatic escape from a police van surrounded by hundreds of his supporters.

 

In turn, Saakashvili commented on his Facebook page that the Ukrainian criminal case against him was a “complete lie.” He wrote that Poroshenko, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili “want to get rid of me … This shows how weak they are. We will definitely triumph over them.”

 

In the same post he called Poroshenko “not a president, nor a man, but a sneaky profiteer who wants to ruin Ukraine.”

 

The deportation to Poland came a week after the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeals rejected Saakashvili’s appeal against the State Migration Service, which had refused to grant him refugee status.

 

Saakashvili applied for refugee status to prevent being deported from Ukraine, or extradited to his native Georgia, where a judge sentenced him last month in absentia to three years in prison for illegally using his presidential power of pardon in 2008, the Guardian says.

 

 

  • Saakashvili first became involved in Ukrainian politics after the Euromaidan protests of 2013-2014, which brought wealthy businessman Poroshenko to power.

     

  • Saakashvili still faces criminal charges in Ukraine. RFE/RL writes that Ukrainian authorities accuse him of having ties with a criminal group headed by former Ukrainian President Yanukovych, and of organizing protests on Russia’s instigation. Saakashvili called the charges absurd and politically motivated.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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