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Saakashvili Rallies Supporters As Kyiv Moves To Extradite Him


Former Georgian President and ex-Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to opposition protesters outside Ukraine's parliament on October 22.

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has called upon his supporters in Ukraine to protect him from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

"Poroshenko wants to extradite me," Saakashvili said in a statement broadcast on the NewsOne television outlet on October 24. "I ask Kyiv residents and all other honest people for protection."

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko announced that the country's migration service had rejected Saakashvili's application for refugee status.

"As a result, he is now a stateless person and there are no special obstacles excluding him from deportation or extradition," Lutsenko said.

Saakashvili's lawyer, Pavlo Bohomazov, told Russia's RIA Novosti that his client has not received a rejection from the migration authorities.

Saakashvili is wanted in Georgia on suspicion of trying to organize a coup there, allegations he denies.

In 2015, Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili governor of Ukraine's Odesa region. He surrendered his Georgian citizenship in order to take the post. In November 2016, however, Saakashvili resigned, saying that his reform efforts had been blocked by Poroshenko's allies.

In June 2017, Poroshenko revoked Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship, saying that he had withheld information during the application procedure.

Saaksashvili reentered Ukraine in September, even though his Ukrainian passport was invalid.

Lutsenko also said on October 24 that Kyiv was preparing to expel 20 Georgian supporters of Saakashvili who have set up tents for a round-the-clock protest outside Ukraine's parliament. He said the men had received residence permits under false pretenses and were now planning a "forcible seizure of power."

"There are all necessary grounds for expelling these 20 people from Ukraine and this is being carried out now by forces of the Ukrainian Migration Service," Lutsenko said.

Saakashvili's supporters set up tents outside the parliament on October 17, calling for Poroshenko to enact anticorruption reforms. Other opposition groups have since joined in the demonstration.

At least 10 people were arrested after police used tear gas against demonstrators on October 18.

With reporting by Meduza, RIA Novosti, and dpa
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