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Kyiv Court Rules Saakashvili Eligible To Run For Parliament

Mikheil Saakashvili speaks during a meeting with his supporters in Odesa on June 19.
Mikheil Saakashvili speaks during a meeting with his supporters in Odesa on June 19.

KYIV -- A Kyiv court ruled on June 21 that former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is eligible to run in Ukraine's snap parliamentary elections on July 21.

The 51-year-old Saakashvili released a video on his Facebook page showing the judge reading the ruling on the validity of his residency in Ukraine.

According to the election law, parliamentary candidates must be Ukrainian citizens who have lived permanently in Ukraine for at least five consecutive years prior to the vote.

The court ruled that Saakashvili resided in Ukraine from February 23, 2014, to June 6, 2019 -- even though he was deported for more than a year and stripped of his citizenship under a decree by former President Petro Poroshenko.

Saakashvili leads the Movement of New Forces party that, according to the latest polls, is not likely to cross the minimum 5 percent threshold to win party representation in parliament.

Saakashvili, a former ally of Poroshenko, served as governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region for 17 months before resigning and accusing Poroshenko of corruption.

Both had been friends when they were university students in Ukraine during the 1980s and early 1990s. Saakashvili also served in the Soviet Border Troops at the Boryspil Airport near Kyiv in 1989-90.

But after the two fell out, Poroshenko had Saakashvili deported from Ukraine on February 12, 2018, and stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reinstated Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship on May 28. Saakashvili returned to Kyiv the following day.

Saakashvili rose to prominence in Georgia during the Rose Revolution of 2003 that forced his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, to resign from the presidency.

As Georgia's president, Saakashvili moved quickly to open the country up to business, eradicate graft, and implement reforms.

His feats earned praise from the World Bank, who named him reformer of the year in 2006.

But in June 2018, after Saakashvili's political opponents rose to power in Tbilisi, a Georgian court sentenced Saakashvili in absentia to six years in prison on charges of abusing his presidential powers.

That court ruled that Saakashvili tried to cover up evidence related to the beating in 2005 of opposition lawmaker Valery Gelashvili.

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