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Ukrainian Court Resumes Hearing On Saakashvili's 'Illegal' Border Crossing

Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to supporters in Dnipro on September 20.
Mikheil Saakashvili speaks to supporters in Dnipro on September 20.

LVIV -- A court in Ukraine has resumed a hearing on Mikheil Saakashvili's return to Ukraine, which the authorities have deemed illegal.

The former Georgian president and Ukrainian regional governor was not present in the district court in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on September 22.

Writing on his Facebook page on September 22, Saakashvili said he couldn't attend the court session because he would not cancel planned meetings "with the people in Cherkasy" in central Ukraine.

Saakashvili said authorities were trying to exhaust him and his followers with court proceedings.

Stripped of his Ukrainian passport, Saakashvili defied the authorities and crossed into Ukraine from Poland on September 10, helped by hundreds of supporters amid scenes of chaos.

On September 12, Ukrainian police served Saakashvili with a notice detailing the violation at a hotel in Lviv, where he first stayed after returning.

Since then, Saakashvili has traveled around Ukraine, including to Kyiv, to rally support and, as he put it, shake up politics in Ukraine.

Ukraine's top prosecutor has said Saakashvili will not be arrested nor extradited to Georgia where he is wanted, in part, on corruption charges from the time he served as president there between 2004 and 2013.

With a reputation for fighting corruption, Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he took Ukrainian citizenship in order to become governor of the Odesa region at the request of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

He resigned from that post in November 2016, complaining in part that Poroshenko's government was blocking his anticorruption efforts.

Saakashvili has since established an opposition party, the Movement of New Forces.

Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship in July, leaving him essentially stateless.

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