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Ukrainian President Reinstates Saakashvili's Citizenship


Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo)
Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has reinstated the Ukrainian citizenship of Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who served as governor of Ukraine's Odesa region in 2015-16.

In a decree signed and posted on the presidential website on May 28, Zelenskiy annulled a portion of his predecessor Petro Poroshenko's July 2017 decree that deprived Saakashvili of his citizenship.

Zelenskiy's decree comes eight days after his inauguration and six days after Saakashvili's lawyer, Ruslan Chornolutskiy, filed a request seeking restoration of Saakashvili's citizenship.

Saakashvili's spokeswoman Tanya Bahranovska told RFE/RL that he will fly from the Polish capital, Warsaw, to Kyiv on the afternoon of May 29.

Saakashvili was granted Ukrainian citizenship and appointed to the Odesa governor's post in 2015 by Poroshenko, an acquaintance from their student days.

Authorities in Tbilisi stripped Saakashvili of his Georgian citizenship in December 2015 on grounds that Georgia does not allow dual citizenship.

Then, when relations between Poroshenko and Saakashvili had soured over corruption allegations and reform efforts, Poroshenko in November 2016 sacked Saakashvili from the Odesa governor's post.

In July 2017, after Saakashvili created an opposition party called the Movement of New Forces, Poroshenko issued a decree that stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship.

In February last year, Saakashvili was detained in Kyiv, taken to the airport, and flown to Poland.

Days later, Ukraine's border service banned Saakashvili from entering Ukraine until February 13, 2021.

Saakashvili swept to power in Georgia after helping lead the peaceful Rose Revolution protests there in 2003, when he was mayor of Tbilisi.

His party was dislodged from power by an opposition force in 2012 parliamentary elections and his term as president expired in 2013.

Saakashvili currently resides in the Netherlands, his wife's native country.

With reporting by Christopher Miller in Kyiv
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