Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in his Dutch-born wife’s home country from Poland on Wednesday after being deported from Ukraine earlier in the week
“I think (Ukrainian President Petro) Poroshenko does not have much time left,” Saakashvili told the media after arriving in the Netherlands, saying he vowed to “break the necks of Poroshenko and [Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yury] Lutsenko.” “They will go to prison — not in Europe, but to Ukrainian jails,” he said.
Saakashvili served as Georgian president from 2004-2013, was tapped by Poroshenko to head Ukraine’s economically important Odessa region in 2015 but quickly fell afoul of his former university classmate over corruption claims and accusations that Poroshenko was blocking much-needed reforms in favour of powerful organised crime interests in Odessa.
Saakashvili was arrested in a Georgian restaurant in Kiev on February 12, taken to the city’s main international airport and immediately shipped to Poland, the country from which he had illegally returned to Ukraine in September 2017 by breaking through a border checkpoint with the help of his supporters, after being stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko in July.
Saakashvili called on the European Union and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, to support him in his anticorruption campaign against Poroshenko, but has received little backing from Western leaders who have become wary of his increasingly erratic behaviour.
Polish authorities said they had admitted Saakashvili into the country after receiving a specific request from Ukraine’s migration authorities he had the right to enter the Schengen Zone as his wife is an EU citizen.
Saakashvili is currently stateless, having lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship to become governor of Odessa. He resigned from his most recent post in November 2016, personally accusing the Poroshenko of undermining to fight corruption, and became a vocal street politician, vehemently opposed to the current Ukrainian government.
In the months since Poroshenko reversed his executive order that granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship, the latter has attempted to paint Poroshenko as a worse alternative to his predecessor, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled following the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution.
Saakashvili is also wanted in Georgia on abuse of power and corruption charges. In January, a Tbilisi court convicted Saakashvili of abuse of power in connection with a 2006 murder case and sentenced him in absentia to three years in prison. He denies any wrongdoing and says the charges are politically motivated by his bitter Georgian political rival, the pro-Moscow oligarch and former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Opinion polls indicate that Saakashvili and the political movement he created in the wake of his resignation as Odessa’s governor had very limited popularity with Ukrainian voters.