Ukraine strips citizenship of ex-Georgia leader Saakashvili

AP News
Posted: Jul 26, 2017 2:58 PM
Ukraine strips citizenship of ex-Georgia leader Saakashvili

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Ukraine's president has rescinded the citizenship of Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who moved to Ukraine to become leader of one of its most corruption-plagued regions and later resigned, the country's migration service announced Wednesday.

The move by President Petro Poroshenko came after Ukraine received unspecified documents from Georgia, the service said.

Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after being appointed as governor of Ukraine's Odessa region. Georgia is seeking the ex-leader's extradition to face charges connected to the violent dispersal of protests and a raid on a private television station.

Saakashvili, a reformist who came to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution protests, was appointed Odessa governor by Poroshenko. He resigned the post last year, complaining of official obstruction of anti-corruption efforts.

Saakashvili currently is in the United States, Sergei Leshchenko, a member of Poroshenko's bloc in Parliament, said.

"Saakashvili will be forced to seek refuge in America and forget about American politics," Leshchenko said.

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Political analyst Vladimir Fesenko said the move showed Poroshenko was under pressure both from Georgia and from powerful political forces within Ukraine.

"On the field of the battle against corruption, Saakashvili made too many enemies among the ruling Ukrainian elite," Fesenko said.

Saakashvili notably clashed with Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, whom he accused of funding a private militia through corrupt means. The accusation prompted Avakov to throw a glass of water on him.