Saakashvili’s followers rally after their leaders deportation from Ukraine

Photo: Reuters/ Gleb Garanich
Photo: Reuters/ Gleb Garanich

Supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili will rally in Kyiv today, urging Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko’s resignation over Saakashvili’s deportation.

Poroshenko brought on Saakashvili, a former Georgian president, to be governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast region in May 2015. However, Saakashvili resigned in November 2016 and set up his own opposition party, accusing Poroshenko of complicity in endemic corruption. Last July, Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukranian citizenship; since he gave up his Georgian passport to become governor he is now stateless.

For his part, the ex-president stands accused of membership in a pro-Russia “criminal group”, a charge Saakashvili denies as a political smear. On February 12, he was deported to Poland. He will live in the Netherlands for the near future, via family reunification through his Dutch wife.

Saakashvili will continue to agitate against Poroshenko from afar, but his statelessness and questions over his extravagant lifestyle may cloud his future effectiveness as an anti-corruption champion. Still, if turnout is high in today’s protest, Poroshenko should not take his rival’s decline as a complete victory.

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