Feb. 12 (UPI) — Ukrainian border service officials said they arrested and deported former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to Poland after months of legal challenges over his criticisms of the Ukrainian government.
Saakashvili’s press secretary, Tetiana Barganovskaya, told Britain’s The Guardian that men in camouflage took the former president from a Kiev restaurant.
“They pushed him into a white van and drove off,” she said. “They didn’t show any identification.”
Poland’s border service confirmed that Saakashvili arrived in the country and had permission from Warsaw to be there.
“This person was on Ukrainian territory illegally and therefore, in compliance with all legal procedures, he was returned to the country from where he arrived,” Ukrainian border service spokesman Oleh Slobodyan said.
The deportation comes amid vocal resentment from Saakashvili against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
One-time friends, Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili as governor of the Odessa region in 2015. Saakashvili resigned from the post in 2016, decrying what he described as high-level corruption in the government. Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship.
Saakashvili was arrested multiple times in 2017 for allegedly forming a criminal group. At one point, his supporters freed him from detention.
“[Poroshenko] is neither a president nor a man,” Saakashvili said from Warsaw. “He is a wheeler-dealer who wants to ruin Ukraine. This shows how weak they are. We will triumph for sure.”
Saakashvili’s supporters gathered Monday evening in front of the presidential office to protest his deportation.