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Saakashvili's Brother Detained In Kyiv, Faces Deportation Amid Escalating Feud


Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili

The brother of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is facing deportation from Ukraine on allegations that he was in the country illegally, a move that comes amid a fierce standoff between the ex-head of state and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

A Ukrainian Interior Ministry spokesman told RFE/RL on September 2 that David Saakashvili was taken into custody earlier in the day because his residence permit had been canceled in March.

"It has now been decided that he should leave the territory of our country," spokesman Artem Shevchenko said.

David Saakasvili, who was released later in the day, will also be fined for violating migration laws, Shevchenko added.

His detention was the latest development in an escalating feud between the former Georgian president, who also previously served as governor of Ukraine's Odesa region, and Poroshenko.

Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26, a move the former Georgian president condemned as an "illegal way to remove me from the political scene in Ukraine."

Saakashvili is currently in Poland, and he announced last month that he plans to return to Ukraine on September 10 by crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border in Ukraine's western region of Lviv.

In a Facebook post earlier on September 2, Saakashvili suggested that by detaining his brother, Ukrainian authorities are attempting to dissuade him from returning to the country.

Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after he took Ukrainian citizenship in order to become Odesa's governor. He resigned from the post in November, saying that the government in Kyiv was sabotaging crucial reforms.

Poroshenko said on September 1 that he had been required to cancel Saakashvili's citizenship because his application for the passport contained "inaccurate or false information." Saakashvili disputes this, saying Poroshenko illegally stripped him of his citizenship.

Saakashvili, a pro-Western politician who rose to power in Tbilisi in the bloodless 2003 Rose Revolution, has been left essentially stateless.

Georgia is seeking his extradition to face charges related to the violent dispersal of protesters and a raid on a private television station. Saakashvili says the charges are politically motivated.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Interfax, and AFP
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