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Ukraine Confirms Georgia Asked For Ex-President Saakashvili's Extradition

Former Georgian President and ex-Governor of Ukraine's Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to return to Ukraine later this month, despite the extradition request. (file photo)

Ukrainian authorities have confirmed that they received a request from Georgia to extradite its former president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

"Ukraine has received a request to search for, detain and extradite Mikheil Saakashvili," Deputy Justice Minister Serhiy Petukhov told a news conference on September 5.

"The Justice Ministry is sending the request from Georgia ... to Ukraine's general prosecutor for an extradition review," Petukhov said.

The Georgian Prosecutor-General's office said on August 18 that it had sent the extradition request to Ukraine.

Citing Georgia's Chief Prosecutor's Office, Petukhov said that Saakashvili was a defendant in four criminal cases.

The charges include misappropriation of property and abuse of office, Petukhov said.

Saakashvili has said the charges are part of a political witch hunt by his opponents.

Saakashvili moved to Ukraine to help drive reforms after the 2014 uprising that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

He has been in conflict with the Kyiv authorities since quitting as governor of the Odessa region last year and accusing President Petro Poroshenko of abetting corruption.

Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship at the end of July, when Saakashvili was out of the country, a move that the former Georgian president condemned as an "illegal way to remove me from the political scene in Ukraine."

When Saakashvili was still the Odesa region's governor, Kyiv refused to extradite him to Georgia at least twice.

He has also been stripped of his Georgian citizenship.

Saakashvili is currently in Poland and has pledged to return to Ukraine on September 10.

Ukrainian authorities have said previously they would bar Saakashvili from entering the country and will confiscate his passport should he attempt entry.

Saakashvili came to power in Georgia after a peaceful pro-Western uprising, known as the Rose Revolution, in 2003.

He was president at the time of a disastrous five-day war with Russia in 2008, a conflict that his critics said was the result of his own miscalculations.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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