TBILISI, DFWatch–Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree to restore the citizenship of Georgian politician Mikheil Saakashvili on Tuesday.
Invigorated by the news of his restored Ukrainian citizenship, Saakashvili said he would return to Ukraine on Wednesday.
“From Kiev I’ll be much closer to Tbilisi […] Ivanishvili will feel my hot breath to his neck,” former president Mikheil Saakashvili told Rustavi 2.
Earlier in the day, he celebrated the decision online.
“I’ll come back tomorrow. I miss Ukraine and Kiev and I’m flying to Kiev,” the flamboyant politician wrote in Ukrainian and Russian language in a Facebook post.
In the Ukrainian election, Saakashvili backed Zelensky and expressed hope about returning to politics in the country. Saakashvili used Facebook to call on his supporters to back Zelensky in the elections in the second round. In his address, Saakashvili called Zelensky ‘the next president of Ukraine’ and urged democratic forces to support him ‘without any preconditions.’ The Georgian politician called Poroshenko’s possible defeat ‘a terrific chance for Ukraine.’
Mikheil Saakashvili is living in exile in Poland, but frequently travelling to other countries except Ukraine and Georgia. He was forcefully deported from Ukraine in February, 2018 and was banned from returning.
Meanwhile, in Georgia he has been tried in absentia and sentenced to prison after being found guilty in several criminal cases. The last time was in June 2018, when Tbilisi City Court found the ex-president guilty of ordering the beating of a parliamentarian in 2005 and sentenced him to six years in prison, as well as stripping him of his right to hold government office for two years and three months.
Saakashvili denies all charges and accusations and blames the governments of Ukraine and Georgia of politically motivated persecution.
After losing power in his home country, Saakashvili relocated to Ukraine and took an active part in the protests in Kiev in 2013 and 2014 known as Euromaidan, against then president Viktor Yanukovich. After the latter was ousted, the new president Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili, his personal friend, as governor of Odessa Oblast in the country’s south-west.
However, Saakashvili soon clashed with his friend over the issue of corruption, and after the relationship between the two soured he was eventually forced to step down, after which he attempted to launch an opposition movement.