Georgian president: Saakashvili shouldn't have left the country Zoom

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Georgian president: Saakashvili shouldn't have left the country Zoom

Poroshenko's administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saakashvili's accusations against the president. Ironically, Poroshenko praised his corruption-fighting record in Georgia when he appointed Saakashvili to head the Odessa region in 2015.

Poroshenko saw him at that time as an ally, but Saakashvili resigned the post past year, complaining of official obstruction of his anticorruption efforts. Georgia is seeking the ex-leader's extradition to face charges connected to the violent dispersal of protests and a raid on a private television station. He accused the president of trying to maintain grip on power "by all possible means" and warned that Poroshenko could share the fate of his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled by pro-European protests in February 2014 and fled to Russian Federation.

Poroshenko offered no public explanation for the move, but Leshchenko said late on July 26 that the president's intention was to force Saakashvili to stay out of the country and seek refuge in the United States.

Saakashvili, who is now in NY, according to his representative Zoe Reyners, slammed the decision, saying in a Facebook post that "there is an attempt under way to force me to become a refugee".

According to Ukrainian legislation, only Ukrainian citizens can lead political parties or be elected to parliament.

Some lawmakers in Poroshenko's bloc criticized the president's decision. To grant Ukrainian citizenship to the former Georgian president, appoint him governor, strip him of Ukrainian citizenship and agree to his extradition to Georgia. During the visit, Saakashvili wrote on Facebook that Poroshenko informally met with former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, whom the opposition accuse of controlling the GD government through informal contacts.

The fluent Ukrainian speaker had repeated run-ins with some members of Poroshenko's inner circle and was frequently accused of having outsized political ambitions of his own.

The Georgian prosecutor's office repeatedly called for Kiev to extradite Saakashvili, but the Ukrainian side rejected the appeals.

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