Sun, 05 Jul 2020

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who served as governor of Ukraine's Odesa region, has asked Ukraine's new president to reinstate his Ukrainian citizenship.

Saakashvili's lawyer, Ruslan Chornolutskiy, announced on Facebook on May 22 that he has formally filed a request with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's administration for the restoration of Saakashvili's citizenship.

Saakashvili was granted Ukrainian citizenship and appointed to the Odesa governor's post in 2015 by Zelenskiy's predecessor, President Petro Poroshenko.

Authorities in Tbilisi stripped Saakashvili of his Georgian citizenship in December 2015 on the grounds that Georgia does not allow dual citizenship.

Then, when relations between Poroshenko and Saakashvili had soured over corruption allegations, Poroshenko in November 2016 sacked Saakashvili from the Odesa governor's post.

In July 2017, after Saakashvili created an opposition party called Movement of New Forces, Poroshenko issued a decree that stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship.

Chornolutskiy on May 22 also posted Saakashvili's letter to Zelenskiy online.

In it, Saakashvili says Poroshenko's decision to strip him of his Ukrainian citizenship was 'illegal' because it violated the Ukrainian Constitution and international laws by leaving him stateless.

Saakashvili's letter also referred to Zelenskiy's May 20 inaugural speech in which the new Ukrainian president said he was ready to grant citizenship to anyone who was ready to work for Ukraine's future.

'I would like to remind you that I not only consider myself a Ukrainian, I am a person who is ready to lay my life down to make Ukraine successful and strong,' Saakashvili wrote, adding that he does not require an official government post in Ukraine.

Saakashvili's letter also asks Zelenskiy to at least lift a ban on his entry into Ukraine so he can defend himself in court if the new president does not consider it appropriate to reinstate his Ukrainian citizenship.

Saakashvili currently resides in the Netherlands, his wife's native country.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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