The Story of Return: How Former Georgian President Struggles for Power in Ukraine

Georgian ex-President, Mikheil Saakashvili, in Kiev.

Kiev, Ukraine (VIAnews) – Back in 2015, the ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili obtained the Ukrainian citizenship from the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. Mr. Saakashvili was also appointed as Governor of the Odessa region and head of Advisory International Council for Reforms.

In September 2015, a national online petition demanding to make Mr. Saakashvili the new Prime Minister of Ukraine gathered 22 000 signatures in only 5 days (out of the 25000 required). This meant he had great popularity among Ukrainians.

Implementing the radical changes in the Odessa region and criticizing Ukrainian authorities, Saakashvili has soon become the opposing party of government.

Months later, former Georgian president had fights with three Ukrainian leaders — prime-minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, and minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov.

In November 2016, Saakashvili decided to resign his post and was fired by the Ukrainian president two days later.

In the beginning of 2017, Mikhail had launched his own party called Movement of New Forces and demanded early parliamentary elections.

According to the Ukrainian media “Hromadske”, Petro Poroshenko was committing several efforts to get along with Saakashvili. For instance, the president has proposed Mikheil to become the Ukrainian ambassador for the Netherlands. After Saakashvili’s rejections, on June 26th, Petro Poroshenko has deprived former Odessa governor of the Ukrainian citizenship.

Mikheil Saakashvili, staying in the U.S. during this period, expressed his disagreement with such decision and promised to return to Ukraine.

And so he did. On September 10th, Mr. Saakashvili and some journalists boarded the Polish-Ukrainian train which would depart from the Polish city of Przemyśl, cross the border, to make the first stop in the Ukrainian city Lviv. However, the train didn’t move. The train’s chief announced they weren’t going anywhere until the person without Ukrainian citizenship leaves the train.

Saakashvili, his supporters (among whom were Ukrainian politicians Yulia Tymoshenko and Mustafa Nayem), and journalists, have left the railway carriage and tried to enter a second train, which was also heading Ukraine. This train didn’t even open its doors.

Mikheil Saakashvili went to the Medica – Shegini border by car. Passing through the Polish border was easy, but Mr. Saakashvili wasn’t allowed through the Ukrainian customs. The politician has rejected the option to return back in Poland. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian National guards have formed a “wall”, protecting the country’s border. At the same time when the Saakashvili’s supporters arrived. According to Hromadske, “almost 200 people lined up near the soldiers, went on the offensive, and literally went, together with Saakashvili, across the state border”.

On the day, by evening, Saakashvili was already giving a speech in Lviv. He declared the beginning of his tour across Ukraine.

On September 19th, former Odessa governor organized a meeting near the President’s Administration in Kyiv, concerning his Ukrainian citizenship. He claimed the necessity to apply to the European Court of Humans rights, in case the Ukrainian authorities refuse to provide him with all required citizenship documents.

The opinions about Mikheil Saakashvili vary. While some Ukrainians believe that former Georgian president violated the Ukrainian law and needs to be punished, others claim he became the victim of the presidential regime.

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