KIEV – Police arrived on Tuesday at a hotel in the western Ukraine city of Lviv where the currently stateless former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, who later became a regional Ukrainian governor, was holed up after breaching a checkpoint on the border aided by hordes of sympathizers.
Ukrainian security officials, who sought to hand over a legal order regarding his irregular entry to the country, arrived at the luxurious Leopolis Hotel to find Saakashvili surrounded by a group of followers and several lawyers.
A spokesperson for the Movement of New Forces, a Ukrainian political movement founded by Saakashvili in 2017, said that the paperless politician would collaborate with the security officials before giving a press conference outside the hotel because: “He doesn’t flee from anyone.”
Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by President Petro Poroshenko in July 2017 ostensibly on the grounds that he was wanted for criminal charges in Georgia, where he was president between 2008 and 2013.
On Sunday, however, Saakashvili launched a bid to return to Ukraine where, until Nov. 2016, he held the post of governor in the nation’s southernly Odessa Oblast, located on the Black Sea.
His train bound from the Polish city of Przemysl was initially halted by Ukrainian border guards.
But security officials were soon overwhelmed and forced to step aside as a sizable gathering of Saakashvili sympathizers swept the embargoed politician across the frontier.
News of Saakashvili’s illegal border crossing was met by Poroshenko with a warning of legal action.
Saakashvili has told media that he returned to Ukraine in order to overthrow what he termed an oligarchical dictatorship.