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Ukraine's Prosecutor Says Saakashvili Won't Face Arrest Or Extradition

Prosecutor-General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko (file photo)
Prosecutor-General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko (file photo)

Ukraine's top prosecutor has said former Georgian President and Ukrainian regional governor Mikheil Saakashvili will not be arrested for defying authorities with his dramatic return to the country after his citizenship was canceled.

In his September 16 comments, Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko also said that Saakashvili, who is wanted in Georgia on allegations of corruption during his presidency, would not be extradited and suggested the stateless ex-leader may have a document allowing him to remain in Ukraine.

"Saakashvili will not be arrested in this case, Saakashvili cannot be extradited from this country while he has a residence permit or other document that he has filed," Lutsenko said at the annual Yalta European Strategy forum in Kyiv.

Lutsenko did not specify what kind of document he was referring to.

The reformist, pro-Western president of Georgia from 2004-13, Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after he took Ukrainian citizenship in order to become governor of the Odesa region at the request of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

He resigned as Odesa governor in November 2016, complaining of official obstruction of anticorruption efforts, accusing Poroshenko of dishonesty, and charging that the government in Kyiv was sabotaging crucial reforms.

Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship in July, leaving him essentially stateless. On September 10, Saakashvili defied Ukrainian authorities and made a chaotic crossing into the country from Poland, helped by hundreds of his supporters.

Authorities on September 12 formally served notice on Saakashvili in the western city of Lviv for what officials called his illegal entry into the country. They claimed several border officers were injured in the altercation at the border with his supporters.

Lutsenko said on September 16 that those who helped bring Saakashvili across the border would face criminal charges but would not be arrested.

But he said those who "beat Ukrainian border guards" would face arrest and prosecution.

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