Published: Tue, September 12, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Kremlin brands Saakashvili's 'illegal border crossing' as political circus

Kremlin brands Saakashvili's 'illegal border crossing' as political circus

Police in western Ukraine's Lvov region have filed new criminal charges against Georgian ex-president and former Odessa Region's governor Mikhail Saakashvili, who illegally crossed into Ukraine from Poland.

Saakashvili said "several hundred thugs were mobilised by the Ukrainian government to stop several thousand" of his supporters waiting to greet him on the Ukrainian side.

Saakashvili meant to return to Ukraine despite being stripped of Ukrainian citizenship by his one-time ally, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and being threatened with arrest and extradition if he sets foot on Ukrainian soil.

Now, Saakashvili wants to return to challenge that decision in court and get back into politics.

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Before crossing the border, Saakashvili has explained stis difficulty by the fact that Kiev "panic", saying that he wanted "not to overthrow the president Porochenko" goal just to defend sti rights.

"I came with my Ukrainian passport, I wanted to show my passport and make a statement", a triumphant Saakashvili told supporters after crossing.

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.

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". This was savage: the crowd of people running to the border line, clashing with border guards, Saakashvili pushing his way through the line of soldiers and falling into arms of a cheerful crowd.

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"Fighting for power, Saakashvili's supporters are destroying the state..."

Ukraine's migration service said the president takes decisions on who is stripped of Ukrainian citizenship based on the conclusions of the citizenship commission. "There always must be legal responsibility", Poroshenko said in televised remarks on Monday.

Kiev is "panicking", Saakashvili said, adding that he did "not want to overthrow President Poroshenko" but just defend his rights.

While there is sympathy for Mr Saakashvili in Ukraine - where many people believe the ruling elite is increasing pressure on critics and failing to fulfil its reform pledges - polls suggest he would not be a major challenger in elections due in 2019. "We see what he did in his own country (Georgia) and that's enough for us".

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Tbilisi on Tuesday asked Kiev to extradite Saakashvili to face charges of misappropriation of property and abuse of office among others.

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