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‘The whole thing stinks’: Saakashvili slams Ukraine for stripping his citizenship

Screengrab FRANCE 24

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of bowing to pressure from a Russian oligarch to strip him of his Ukrainian citizenship in an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Thursday.

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The ex-Georgian president who was building a new political career in Ukraine was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship on Wednesday for allegedly providing false information on his citizenship registration form in 2015.

But in an interview with FRANCE 24 Thursday, Saakashvili vowed to fight the decision, which he said followed a deal between Ukrainian President Poroshenko and Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian businessman who is a major stakeholder in the Russian oil giant company, Gazprom.

“Poroshenko this time went, met Bidzina Ivanishvili in Georgia and they made a deal against me,” said Saakashvili. “It’s an unholy union of two oligarchs against me, who has no money. Now I have no passport, but they’re still scared of me.”

Saakashvili lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after becoming a Ukrainian national. The latest decision to strip him of his Ukrainian nationality leaves the former Georgian statesman stateless.

‘I will certainly go back to Ukraine’

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from the US, where he is currently on a visit, Saakashvili accused Poroshenko of corruption.

“Poroshenko has been doing more than enough to help corruption together with his fellow oligarchs,” he said.

“The whole thing stinks,” he added, accusing Poroshenko of behaving exactly like his predecessor, former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, who was close to Moscow before he was ousted in 2014. “It’s reminiscent of what Yankovich did... Poroshenko is replicating exactly what Yanukovich did. One has to remind him that Yanukovich finished very badly.”

Nevertheless, Saakashvili said he did not intend to apply to the US for asylum. Instead, he vowed to fight Kiev’s decision and return to Ukraine.

“They are trying to get rid of me, they will be disappointed. In the modern world [there are] many examples of dictators trying to get rid of the opposition, but they never succeed,” said Saakashvili. “I’m not seeking asylum anywhere else… I will certainly go back to Ukraine.”

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