Ukraine president criticizes Saakashvili for crossing border

Oscar Cross
September 12, 2017

Saakashvili has been stateless since his former mentor, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, stripped him of Ukrainian citizenship two months ago.

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and former governor of Ukraine's Odessa region, was pushed through a Polish-Ukrainian border in Ukraine on Sunday, September 10.

He lost his Georgian citizenship when he was granted a Ukrainian passport in 2015 because Georgia does not allow dual citizenship.

Supporters who accompanied him to the crossing point included former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Mustafa Nayyem, a lawmaker who was a key figure in the 2013-14 protests that drove Russia-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych out of the country.

The woman in charge of the Ukrainian train, Inna Smirnova, said she had been ordered by the authorities - she declined to specify whether Polish or Ukrainian - to stop the train leaving until Saakashvili got off. "A crime was committed instead", he said. Government officials at the border said 17 police and guards were injured during the confrontation with Saakashvili's supporters. As Poroshenko has revoked that citizenship, Saakashvili is technically stateless, though he contends that the revocation is illegal because global law prohibits stripping the citizenship of a person who would then become stateless.

Speaking to reporters in the western city of Lviv later Monday, Saakashvili rejected the accusations, saying that stripping him of Ukrainian citizenship "was the crime".

Saakashvili said he would travel to all regions of Ukraine to unite "different political forces around a common theme that we must have a democracy and we should not let oligarchs hold sway".

Saakashvili said his supporters "carried" him across the border, the BBC reported.

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".

Earlier Sunday, Ukrainian authorities blocked a Kiev-bound train in Poland carrying Saakashvili, who eventually got off and took a bus to the Medyka crossing.

Saakashvili was stripped of his citizenship in July.

At the Medyka border, supporters expressed hope that Saakashvili could deliver some of the same types of reforms in Ukraine.

Georgia has requested his extradition.

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