Ukraine to deport brother of former Georgian president

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 September, 2017, 9:51pm

Ukrainian officials moved on Saturday to deport the brother of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is locked in a fierce feud with the country’s leader Petro Poroshenko.

An interior ministry spokesman said David Saakashvili was taken by police to immigration authorities for allegedly violating Ukrainian law after having his residency permit revoked in March.

“The foreign citizen was properly informed back then of the lack of grounds for his living in Ukraine, but he did not leave the territory of our country in the period established by law and stayed on illegally,” ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko said.

Mikheil Saakashvili had a major falling out with Poroshenko after moving to Ukraine to work as a regional governor in the wake of the pro-Western revolution in Kiev.

Saakashvili had accused Kiev of stalling in the fight against corruption.

Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship at the end of July, when the charismatic reformer was out of the country.

Saakashvili has pledged to return to Ukraine on September 10 via Poland, and has challenged the authorities to try to stop him.

In a Facebook post, he accused Kiev of going after his brother in a bid “to influence me, so that I change my mind about coming back.”

“But you don’t know me well and this strengthens my decision to defend Ukraine,” he wrote.

Saakashvili rose to power in his Caucasus homeland in a bloodless revolution in 2003 and set about shifting Georgia closer to the West.

That angered Russia, and in 2008 Moscow defeated Georgia in a brief war over a breakaway region. Saakashvili then moved to Ukraine to head up the Odessa region in 2015, but quit after the dispute with Poroshenko.

He is wanted in his homeland of Georgia on charges of abuse of office, which he says are part of a political witch hunt by his opponents.