By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Georgia has requested that Ukraine extradite Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region who was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship last month.
The Georgian Prosecutor-General’s Office said on August 18 that it was cooperating with Ukrainian authorities on Saakashvili’s extradition.
The statement came two days after Saakashvili, who is currently in Poland, announced that he planned to return to Ukraine on September 10 by crossing the Polish-Ukrainian border in Ukraine’s western region of Lviv.
President Petro Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26, a move that the former Georgian president condemned as an “illegal way to remove me from the political scene in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian authorities have said they will bar Saakashvili from entering the country and will confiscate his passport should he attempt entry.
When Saakashvili was still the Odesa region’s governor, Kyiv refused to extradite him to Georgia at least twice.
In a controversial audio recording that went viral online on August 12, a man with a voice similar to that of Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili tells another man who introduces himself as Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov that Tbilisi does not want Saakashvili back in Georgia as it might lead to disorder.
Russian prankster Aleksei Stolyarov said later that he had tricked Mgebrishvili, introducing himself by phone as his Ukrainian counterpart, and recorded the talk.
Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after he took Ukrainian citizenship in order to become Odesa governor, the post he resigned from in November, saying that the government in Kyiv was sabotaging crucial reforms.
Georgia is seeking Saakashvili’s extradition to face charges related to the violent dispersal of protesters and a raid on a private television station.
He says those charges are politically motivated.