Kiev (AFP) – Former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili on Tuesday pledged to fight a fierce court battle to reclaim his Ukrainian citizenship after political rival President Petro Poroshenko revoked his passport.
Currently staying in the US, Saakashvili — once lauded in the West as the reformist president of his Caucasus homeland — has effectively been left stateless after he was earlier forced to give up his Georgian citizenship.
“I plan to go to court, moreover, I seek the right to go and take part in this court,” Saakashvili said in a press conference via Skype.
“I will fight for my right to return. I’ll find a way home.”
Charismatic 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.
He quit in November 2016 amid a dramatic falling out with Poroshenko, accusing high-ranking officials of blocking his efforts to tackle rampant corruption.
Ukrainian-speaker Saakashvili was frequently accused of having political
ambitions of his own that made him a political threat to Poroshenko.
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 lost his Georgian citizenship when he was granted a Ukrainian passport, as the country bans dual citizenship.
The authorities in Georgia have said they will seek to get Saakashvili extradited from the US if he remains there to face trial in his homeland.Ukraine’s announcement that it was pulling Saakashvili’s passport came shortly after Poroshenko visited Georgia. Saakashvili alleges Poroshenko struck a secret deal to revoke his citizenship.