Ukraine prevents Georgia's former president from entering its territory

On July 26, 2017, while Saakashvili was in the United States, Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has slammed Ukraine's criminal probe launched against Georgian ex-president and former Odessa Region's governor Mikhail Saakashvili over the illegal border crossing as "political circus", TASS reports. Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship. But Saakashvili quit as governor of Odessa last November, accusing Poroshenko of abetting corruption.

Saakashvili was born in Georgia and was president of the country from 2004 to 2013.

The State Migration Service has said that Saakashvili had submitted incorrect information when he applied for citizenship in 2015.

"Instead, a crime was committed", he said of Sunday's events at the border.

According to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, 16 border guards and police officers sustained bodily injuries during the incident. As Poroshenko has revoked that citizenship, Saakashvili is technically stateless, though he contends that the revocation is illegal because global law prohibits stripping the citizenship of a person who would then become stateless.

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"We believe that Mikheil Saakashvili can lead our country out of the crisis", Lyudmyla Goretska, one of thousands of supporters waiting in Krakovets on the Ukrainian side of the border, told AFP. "When people brought me to Ukraine on their hands, I left my passport on the bus. No matter how many times he says that I am not a danger [to] him, every action of his shows exactly the opposite - that he regards me as a great and immediate danger", Saakashvili also said.

After crossing the border Saakashvili thanked his supporters, saying all of them were heroes. But the train was held at the station for hours - and then announced that it would not leave with a person who had no permission to enter Ukraine.

At the Medyka border, supporters expressed hope that Saakashvili could deliver some of the same types of reforms in Ukraine.

Mr Saakashvili said he was unexpectedly swept over the border by a crowd, angry that the crossing was closed.

Saakashvili said the border guards refused to take his passport from him and stamp it to enter the country. He is wanted in Georgia on charges related to his political career there, and Tbilisi has asked the Kyiv government to extradite him, but it is not clear whether the request will be honored.

  • Stacy Houston