Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued a decree stripping Mikheil Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship, Ukraine’s State Migration Service reported on July 26.
The citizenship was granted to the former Georgian President by Poroshenko himself on May 29, 2015, a day before his appointment as the head of the Odessa region in south-western Ukraine.
Saakashvili resigned from the post of the governor in November 2016, after his relations with Poroshenko soured, becoming an opposition leader and creating his own political party - the Movement of New Forces - in early 2017.
Anton Geraschenko, member of the Verkhovna Rada and advisor to the Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, said that Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted by Georgia on a number of criminal charges, was stripped of the citizenship according to Articles 19 and 21 of the Ukrainian law on citizenship.
According to Geraschenko, “recently the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia provided the Ukrainian side with the facts which it had not known at the time when the decision to grant Mikheil Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship was made, and which Mikheil Saakashvili deliberately concealed.”
He also noted that “the decision to revoke citizen’s status is made if the person willing to receive Ukrainian citizenship has provided deliberately false data, lied, provided false documents, or hidden an important fact of his biography.”
Presently the citizenship status of Saakashvili remains unclear, since he had been stripped of his Georgian citizenship by President Giorgi Margvelashvili, on the basis of him becoming a citizen of another state – Ukraine.
Saakashvili, who was on a visit to the United States when Poroshenko issued his decision, reacted to the news by saying he would fight for his legal right to return to Ukraine. He also underscored that Poroshenko acted in an “underhanded” manner, while Saakashvili was out of the country.
The former Georgian President pointed out that on July 24 Poroshenko appointed new members to the Citizenship Committee of Ukraine “in order to have a completely subservient commission that would agree to any of the President’s whims.”
Saakashvili also said that Ukraine’s rulers “realized that the opposition is unifying in order to come out into the streets this fall and put an end to their oligarchic pact,” and that stripping him of his citizenship was a part of their fearful reaction.
Mikheil Saakashvili added that Poroshenko “crossed a red line” and his action would cause his and his government’s “inevitable failure,” even before the next election.
Saakashvili also suggested in his statement that Poroshenko recently visited Georgia not because he wanted to “establish ties between the two countries, but in order to come to another agreement, this time between two oligarchic regimes” – Poroshenko’s own in Ukraine and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s (former Georgian Prime Minister) in Georgia.
According to Saakashvili, they thought up a ploy to strip him of his Ukrainian citizenship by claiming new evidence provided to the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office. Saakashvili says, however, that since he acquired Ukrainian citizenship no new case has been initiated against him in Georgia.
Russian Prime Minister and former President Dmitry Medvedev reacted to the events in his late-night Facebook post on July 27, saying that “Saakashvili’s fate” and “consistency of the Ukrainian authorities” were both “amazing,” and adding in English that “show must go on.”