KIEV – Ukrainian authorities stopped on Sunday the former President of Georgia and governor of the Odessa region, who had been stripped of his Ukrainian nationality, from entering the country.
Many protesters waited to greet Mikheil Saakashvili, who was attempting to enter Ukraine by train after having his citizenship revoked by President Petro Poroshenko last July.
“Have you ever seen anything like this? President Poroshenko ordered to stop the train on Polish territory. They are keeping hundreds of passengers hostage to stop a single person from entering Ukraine,” he told press.
Saakashvili, who was governor of the Ukrainian Odessa region from May 2015 to November 2016, had been trying to enter the country from Poland accompanied by a group of Ukrainian politicians when the train was stopped ahead of the border.
Authorities announced that until he got off the train, it would not be continuing its journey.
“It was brutal to deprive me of my nationality in the old Soviet style, but to stop a train on foreign territory, in the European Union, with hundreds of passengers on board...” said Saakashvili, who was president of Georgia from 2003 to 2012 and later also lost Georgian citizenship.
Lawmaker Mustafa Nayyem, who participated in the Euromaidan revolution in 2014 and was on the train alongside him on Sunday, traveled to Warsaw to try to get Poland to intervene.
Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, called on her country’s public prosecutor’s office to act in the face of what she described as a crime.
Saakashvili, who allegedly had his citizenship revoked by Poroshenko for hiding that he was wanted by Georgian authorities, reappeared in the public eye in Poland in early Aug. and said he intended to return to Ukraine.
Poroshenko’s decision was met with a barrage of criticism, as it came shortly after Saakashvili resigned from his role as governor due to rampant corruption in the country’s public administration and founded a new political party.