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Georgia’s ex-president returns to Ukraine on Wednesday after getting back citizenship

He stressed that his thoughts would be with Georgia no matter what

TBILISI, May 28./TASS/. Ex-President of Georgia and former Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Region Mikhail Saakashvili said on Tuesday that was planning to return to Kiev on Wednesday after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had reinstated his Ukrainian citizenship.

"He (Zelensky) returned my Ukrainian citizenship that I was stripped of illegitimately, the way that I was also expelled from the country. Tomorrow in the afternoon I will fly back to Kiev where many of my associates live, where I studied, served in the army and fought," Saakashvili told Georgian Rustavi-2 television by phone, adding that all his thoughts would be with Georgia no matter what.

After being stripped of the Ukrainian and Georgian citizenships, Saakashvili received residence permit in the Netherlands, where his wife is the national.

Mikhail Saakashvili had served two inconsecutive terms as Georgia’s head of state, from January 2004 to November 2007 and from January 2008 to mid-November 2013. In May 2015, Saakashvili was granted Ukrainian citizenship, which resulted in his Georgian citizenship being terminated by a Georgian presidential decision. He then served as Odessa Regional Governor, but later stepped down. In July 2017, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship amid a political fallout and under the pretext of Saakashvili knowingly giving false information to obtain citizenship, In February 2018, the Ukrainian authorities expelled him to Poland.

The Ukrainian State Border Service banned Saakashvili from entering the country until 2021. However, he pledged that he would never stop trying to return to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has restored Ukrainian citizenship of Mikhail Saakashvili, a decree published on the presidential website said on Tuesday.