Ex-Georgian leader Saakashvili barges across Ukraine border

Amid shouts of "victory" and "glory to Ukraine", Saakashvili returned to Ukraine despite being stripped of Ukrainian citizenship by his one-time ally, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and facing possible arrest and deportation.

The people broke through a cordon placed by Ukrainian border guards and police, and then they closely surrounded Saakashvili and Ukrainian politicians and public figures accompanying him and have "carried" them into the territory of Ukraine, he said. He forfeited his Georgian citizenship when he accepted Poroshenko's welcome to Ukraine and the post as Odessa governor two years ago.

"Saakashvili's return to Ukrainian politics was triumphant albeit scandalous", Mr Vadym Karasyov, director of the Kiev-based Institute of Global Strategies, said. "A crime was committed instead", he said.

According to Ukrainian authorities, 11 police officers and five border guards received minor injuries during clashes with Saakashvili's supporters.

But he quit in November 2016 amid a dramatic falling out with Poroshenko, who stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship in July while he was out of the country.

"I am in support of Mikheil Saakashvili because I live here and I want for this person who lifted Georgia from its knees out of the dirt, for him to come here and help us do this too", one supporter said. He said that he was not under investigation in Ukraine or overseas, while in fact he was being investigated in Georgia for various charges. "There always must be legal responsibility", Poroshenko said in televised remarks on Monday.

"I hope [Saakashvili] will be just as eager to go to Georgia as he was to get into Ukraine", Poroshenko added, an allusion to criminal charges the pro-Russian government in Tbilisi has leveled against him at home.

The revocation of Saakashvili's citizenship was met with criticism by some Ukrainian politicians with ex-Prime Minister and Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko believing that this move was another step toward dictatorship in Ukraine.

Poroshenko, meanwhile, told reporters that Saakashvili was a "criminal" for entering the country against the wishes of border patrol and would be dealt with as such.

Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities blocked a Kiev-bound train in Poland carrying Saakashvili, who eventually got off and took a bus to the Medyka crossing.

  • Marlene Weaver