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Saakashvili, Claiming His Rights Violated, Calls For Sanctions On Poroshenko

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili poses in front of the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam. (file photo)

Exiled politician Mikheil Saakashvili is calling on European nations to impose sanctions on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his inner circle for allegedly violating his human rights.

Saakashvili on May 29 charged that Poroshenko, a former political ally who made him governor of Odesa before they parted ways over allegations of corruption in the government, breached international law by stripping him of his Ukrainian citizenship and kicking him out of the country in February.

Speaking in the Netherlands, where he has been residing along with his Dutch wife and two sons, Saakashvili said sanctions should be used not only to push Poroshenko to restore his Ukrainian citizenship, but to target assets that he alleged Ukraine's leaders have obtained illegally.

"We are looking for their assets across Europe to impound them, because they were stolen from the Ukrainian people," Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili's British lawyer Geoffrey Robertson said he cannot take his case to European courts until he has exhausted his options in Ukraine's slow-moving judicial system.

From 2004 to 2013, Saakashvili was president of Georgia, where he faces abuse of power charges that he strongly denies. After leaving Georgia, Poroshenko took him in as an ally, but Saakashvili resigned his Odesa governorship, charging that Poroshenko had failed to stem corruption in the government.

Last year, Saakashvili lead antigovernment, anticorruption street protests before he was forced to leave the country.

Saakashvili was detained at a restaurant in Kyiv by armed, masked men and deported to Poland. Robertson said Saakashvili would like to return to Ukraine to lead his political party in next year's presidential election.

"I don't have personal ambitions," Saakashvili said. "But I have ambition to help Ukrainian democracy, to help Ukraine in the corruption fight."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP