Georgia's stateless ex-leader Saakashvili back in Europe

Georgia's exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili, stripped of both his Georgian and Ukrainian citizenship, has turned up in Poland and announced a tour of Europe, local media reported.
Just days ago, Saakashvili was in the United States vowing to fight a decision last week by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to take away his Ukrainian nationality.
On Friday evening he was in Warsaw telling Polish television that he had had no trouble travelling to their country.
"The Americans did not stop me. The Polish didn't either," he told TV Republika.
"I was welcomed in a pleasant manner by the official authorities and here I am in Warsaw," he added.
It is not clear which travel papers Saakashvili used to travel to Poland, but Poroshenko's decision to strip him of his citizenship effectively leaves him stateless.
He lost his Georgian citizenship when he was granted a Ukrainian passport in 2015, as the country bans dual citizenship.
Saakashvili made it clear he intended to travel inside the EU's Schengen borderless zone where, in principle, he will not be required to present any travel documents.
"I will have meetings in other European countries," visiting Brussels, among other cities, he told RMF FM radio.
Saakashvili also made it clear he intended to return to Ukraine, where the authorities have threatened him with extradition to Georgia.
Saakashvili is currently wanted in his homeland Georgia for alleged abuse of power during his tumultuous nine years as president that saw him fight and lose a brief war against Russia in 2008.
He insists the charges are politically motivated revenge masterminded by his billionaire foe Bidzina Ivanishvili, currently seen as the power behind the scenes of Georgia's government.
Saakashvili, 49, moved to Ukraine in 2015 to work for the country's pro-Western authorities as governor of the key Odessa region on the Black Sea.
But he quit in November 2016 amid a dramatic falling out with Poroshenko, accusing high-ranking officials of blocking his efforts to tackle rampant corruption.
Ukraine's announcement last week that it was pulling Saakashvili's passport came shortly after Poroshenko visited Georgia. Saakashvili alleges Poroshenko struck a secret deal to revoke his citizenship.
© 2017 AFP
Georgia's stateless ex-leader Saakashvili back in Europe Georgia's stateless ex-leader Saakashvili back in Europe Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 09:52:00 Rating: 5