Ukrainian law enforcement briefly detained the brother of Mikheil Saakashvili, the intrepid former Georgian president who served for over a year as governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region, before being stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in July.
David Saakashvili, a lawyer, was detained while leaving his home this morning by a group of police officers, Mikheil Saakashvili wrote on Facebook.
Photo credit: David Saakashvili facebook page
A Georgian citizen, Saakashvili was taken into custody for exceeding his legally allowable stay in Ukraine and would be deported, Illya Kiva, an advisor to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, stated.
Later, the Facebook page of “The Movement of New Forces,” a political party founded by Mikheil Saakashvili, announced that David was being held in a State Migration Service office.
However, the ex-president’s brother was “not arrested, but taken” to the migration service to induce him to leave the country, Interior Ministry Spokesman Artem Shevchenko later clarified.
The State Migration Service had annulled David Saakashvili’s residency permit in March after receiving word from the State Labor Service that his work permit had been cancelled, he said.
David Saakashvili was then informed of the annulment, but “failed to leave the territory of our country in the legally established time frame and continued to live [in Ukraine] illegally,” Shevchenko added.
However, not everyone agrees with this explanation. David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy state prosecutor and currently a member of the “Movement of New Forces,” stated on Facebook that David Saakashvili was detained by no fewer than ten law enforcement officers and “invited to visit Avakov.” Saakashvili has all the required documents to reside in Ukraine, Sakvarelidze said.
Saakashvili was subsequently released this afternoon, according to another post from the “Movement of New Forces.” The political party alleges that the authorities had no official grounds to detain Saakashvili and that they failed to provide him documentation proving he had no right to reside in Ukraine.
David Saakashvili’s brief detention comes as the latest twist in the unpredictable saga of his brother. In November 2016, Mikheil Saakashvili resigned as Odesa regional governor, alleging that Ukrainian President Poroshenko was shielding corrupt officials in the region.
In July 2017, Poroshenko stipped Saakashvili of the Ukrainian citizenship he had been granted in 2015 to serve as governor. This left the former Georgian president stateless — he had previously renounced his Georgian citizenship to avoid extradition back to Georgia on what he claimed were politically-motivated criminal charges.
Mikheil Saakashvili was in the United States when he lost his Ukrainian citizenship. Since then, he has traveled through Europe on his annulled Ukrainian passport and is planning to enter Ukrainian territory by way of Poland on September 10.
Never one to shy from the spotlight, Saakashvili has even set up a telephone hotline to handle press inquiries and questions about his impending return to Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kyiv has promised to seize Saakashvili’s passport should he attempt to cross the border.