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Saakashvili Asks for Asylum in Ukraine

The former Georgian president calls supporters to rally in Kyiv against corruption and the arrogance of politicians.

5 October 2017

Mikheil Saakashvili (pictured) has requested political asylum in Ukraine, a move that will delay proceedings on his native Georgia’s attempt to have him extradited.

 

The former president of Georgia and governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in July when he was out of the country, after falling out with President Petro Poroshenko. He forced his way back across the border on 10 September, evoking a furious response from Poroshenko, his one-time friend and mentor, and has since been traveling the country on a kind of anti-corruption road show.

 

Saakashvili submitted the request for asylum with the authorities in the western city of Lviv on 11 September, his lawyer Markiyan Halabala said, according to the Irish Times.

 

Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said Tuesday that Saakashvili had “filed documents … that in accordance with our international obligations prevent his extradition.”

 

“Now it will be thoroughly studied. That procedure will take a few more weeks,” Lutsenko said.

 

Georgian authorities want Saakashvili to face justice for a raft of misdeeds they say he committed while serving as president between 2004 and 2013.

 

At the end of September, Saakashvili announced plans to hold a rally in Kyiv on 17 October to demand the creation of special anti-corruption courts, the abolition of parliamentary immunity, and new electoral legislation, RFE/RL reported. He called on supporters to help him “defeat evil.”

 

 

  • Saakashvili has said that he would seek to have his Ukrainian citizenship restored in court.

 

  • On 22 September a court in Lviv fined him about $130 for illegally entering the country.

 

  • A poll last spring found that his popularity dropped precipitously between September 2015, not long after he became the Odessa region’s governor, and April 2017, three months before he lost his citizenship.

 

  • The poll commissioned by the government of Canada and the International Republican Institute also indicated unfavorable or very unfavorable public attitudes toward Poroshenko, the leaders of major political parties, and other public figures such as Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and the powerful interior minister, Arsen Avakov.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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