The return of the divisive and headstrong Saakashvili, who became governor of Ukraine's Odessa region after being Georgian president from 2004 to 2013, poses a strong challenge to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who once was Saakashvili's patron.
A train carrying former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and his supporters was prevented from leaving a railway station in Poland for Ukraine on Sunday, deepening a standoff between Saakashvili and the Ukrainian authorities.
Saakashvili lost his Georgian citizenship when he was granted a Ukrainian passport in 2015, as the country does not allow dual citizenship.
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"We believe in the fact that Mikheil Saakashvili can lead our country out of the crisis", supporter Lyudmyla Goretska told France24. "Instead of this, a crime has been committed, because there is a constitutional principle of inviolability of borders", Poroshenko said. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said 17 police and border guards were injured in the confrontation.
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It was revoked in July by the Ukrainian president, reportedly on the grounds that Saakashvili failed to mention there was a criminal case against him in Georgia.
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Mr Saakashvili (49) claimed on Monday that police stole his Ukrainian passport during the melee at the border, an allegation they denied. "There should be direct legal accountability", Poroshenko said, according to the Kyiv Post.
Saakashvili, who has been overseas since mid-July, refused to accept the loss of his Ukrainian citizenship, saying he would return to Ukraine to continue his political career. He is wanted in Georgia on charges related to his political career there, and Tbilisi has asked the Kyiv government to extradite him, but it is not clear whether the request will be honored. He eventually got off the train and took a bus to Medyka, where he successfully crossed the border.
An AFP reporter saw the one-time regional Ukraine governor and his supporters enter from Poland's Medyka border crossing, pushing aside Ukrainian border guards who had turned him back just hours earlier.
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The stateless Saakashvili had initially meant to travel through the Krakovets border crossing where hundreds of supporters of his Movement of the New Forces party had gathered.
However, Saakashvili's supporters broke the cordon of border guards having carried the disgraced politician onto the territory of Ukraine.
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