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Saakashvili enters Ukraine after fans storm border crossing

Saakashvili in Ukraine. Photo:
Saakashvili enters Ukraine after fans storm border crossing

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, whose Ukrainian citizenship and passport were annulled after his relations with President Poroshenko went sour, crossed into the territory of Ukraine through the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing point of Shegyni after a column of his supporters rammed through an armed special forces cordon.

The video of the exact moment, approximately 20:00, 10 September 2017, was captured by the Georgian TV station Rustavi:

This followed a day of the Saakashvili’s unsuccessful attempts to cross into Ukrainian territory. Accompanied by over two dozen Ukrainian politicians, including former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, he first boarded a train run by Ukrzaliznytsia, a state-run Ukrainian monopoly. The train did not depart, “due to the refusal of a person who does not have legal reasons to enter Ukraine to leave the train,” according to a statement of Ukrzaliznytsia, and the passengers of the train were offered to continue the journey by buses.

Next, Saakashvili boarded a bus heading to the automobile border crossing point at Shegyni. Half an hour later, the automobile movement on Ukraine’s side of the crossing point was blocked, officially, due to a bomb threat heard about through an anonymous call. An armed special forces cordon blocked the movement.

The Special Forces group. Photo: Gennadiy Druzenko
The Special Forces group. Photo: Gennadiy Druzenko

Saakashvili’s supporters gathered on both sides of the border. At the Ukrainian side of the border, a small rally was held. Eventually, his supporters broke through the armed cordon and dragged the politician to Ukrainian territory.

Saakashvili's supporters force themselves through the special forces cordon. Photo: Gennadiy Druzenko
Saakashvili’s supporters force themselves through the special forces cordon. Photo: Gennadiy Druzenko

Saakashvili announced he is heading out to Lviv, where he will think about his further steps.


Illegal deprivation of citizenship, illegal border crossing

Saakashvili, who was invited to head Ukraine’s reform process but ended up a politician in opposition to his old university buddy Petro Poroshenko, was deprived of Ukrainian citizenship in July 2017, while he was on a visit to the USA. It was done according to a decree of President Poroshenko, who declared that Poroshenko provided untruthful information while filling out documents to obtain citizenship, namely – that Saakashvili concealed the fact that he had criminal cases launched against him in Georgia. However, this information was hardly a secret to Poroshenko or anybody else: the Ukrainian side had previously refused to extradite Saakashvili on a request of the Georgian prosecutors, saying it had reasons to believe that extradition application had the purpose of political persecution. The decree came to light not from the president’s website, but from the facebook account of a Radical Party politician. Later, Saakashvili claimed that his signature of the citizenship application documents was forged.

Saakashvili’s party, Rukh Novykh Syl, claims that the annulment is illegal.

The Georgian ex-President gave up his Georgian citizenship when he was invited to head Ukraine’s reform process. However, he fell out of touch with his old university buddy, incumbent Ukrainian President Poroshenko, and became a hard-line opposition figure who many accuse of populism. Rukh Novykh Syl is supported by 1% of Ukrainians. The party cannot run for parliamentary elections, as Mikhail Saakashvili had not resided in Ukraine the required minimum of five years for becoming an MP.

After he was stripped of citizenship, Saakashvili had traveled abroad, giving interviews about his situation. He claimed he possessed only a Ukrainian passport.

On 10 September, the Ukrainian state border service was tasked to withdraw Saakashvili’s Ukrainian domestic and two foreign passports as invalid and return Saakashvili to the territory of the state which he came from.

Myrotvorets, a website close to the SBU gathering information on persons endangering Ukrainian national security, has entered Saakashvili in its database.

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