Former Georgian President Breaks Through Ukrainian Checkpoint After He Was Refused Entry by Train
12 September, 2017, 00:15
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described as a crime the illegal crossing of the state border by former Head of Odesa Regional Administration Mikheil Saakashvili and a group of MPs.
"Now, I am strongly convinced that this issue was within the competence of law enforcement agencies and they started acting".
Saakashvili had meant to travel through another crossing point, where hundreds of supporters had gathered on the Ukrainian side. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said 17 police and border guards were injured in the confrontation. Ukrainian authorities in the border region tried to block Saakashvili's return - first by train, then by bus - but then he walked across the Ukrainian border at Shehyni in the midst of a crowd of his supporters. It left him effectively stateless as he previously lost his Georgian citizenship because of the country's rules about dual nationality.
Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, ended up being the catalyst for a train from Poland to Ukraine being held up by Ukrainian guards at a checkpoint.
"I hope this gentleman [Saakashvili] will strive with the same zeal to get into Georgia as he did to reach Ukraine".
Georgian authorities have asked Kiev to extradite Mr Saakashvili, saying he is a defendant in four criminal cases. He stands accused of criminal abuse of power by the pro-Russian government in Georgia and was expelled from Ukraine after resigning from the governorship of Odessa and founding a pro-American, anti-Russian populist party.
Georgian ex-president burst through police block and into Ukraine
Saakashvili's relationship with Poroshenko dates back almost three decades to when they were students at the same university in Kiev and their shared opposition to the Kremlin later brought them together as politicians.
The populist Mr Saakashvili - who ran Georgia for almost a decade after leading its 2003 Rose Revolution, but is on the wanted list of its current authorities - insisted he had "no ambition towards any particular office in Ukraine".
Prosecutor-General Yuri Lutsenko said late on Sunday that charges would be pursued against organisers of Saakashvili's unauthorised entry. It became more obvious than ever that in Ukraine we don't have statesmen, and for both decision-makers in power and the opposition it is much more important to have high ratings than to think about what kind of damage their actions will have.
On Sunday evening Saakashvili and his supporters forced their way past a cordon of border guards to return to Ukraine from Poland.
While in Warsaw on Friday, Saakashvili asserted that Ukraine was witnessing a roll-back of reforms and efforts to stem corruption, reiterating that he wanted to get back into politics. And it is all the same to me who breaches the state border, whether fighters in the east or politicians in the west.
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