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Saakashvili breaks through into territory of Ukraine

Saakashvili breaks through into territory of Ukraine

Mikheil Saakashvili, the ex-president of Georgia and former governor of Ukraine's Odesa region, has forced his way into Ukraine across the Polish border, helped by hundreds of his supporters.

On Sunday evening, Saakashvili and his supporters broke through a police cordon at the Shegeni checkpoint at the Polish-Ukrainian border to cross into Ukraine.

Mikhail Saakashvili, who is known for his tie-chewing habit, stated that he lost his Ukrainian passport, which was a legal way for him to enter. He forfeited his Georgian citizenship when he accepted Poroshenko's welcome to Ukraine and the post as Odessa governor two years ago.

Mr Saakashvili claims, however, that he is being targeted by confectionary billionaire Mr Poroshenko, and is in danger of being deported to his native Georgia to face charges of abuse of power that he says are politically motivated. "Instead of this, a crime has been committed, because there is a constitutional principle of inviolability of borders", Poroshenko said.

According to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, 16 border guards and police officers sustained bodily injuries during the incident.

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Saakashvili was appointed to the Odessa post in 2015 on the strength of his record of fighting corruption in Georgia.

But he quit in November 2016 amid a dramatic falling out with Poroshenko, who stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship in July while he was out of the country. "When people brought me to Ukraine on their hands, I left my passport on the bus".

The populist Mr Saakashvili - who ran Georgia for almost a decade after leading its 2003 Rose Revolution, but is on the wanted list of its current authorities - insisted he had "no ambition towards any particular office in Ukraine". He then traveled by bus to the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing, where he was allowed to pass through a Polish checkpoint on the border with Ukraine, but then temporarily blocked from reaching the Ukrainian checkpoint by a line of border guards standing arm-in-arm.

"I want to say that this is the beginning of my fight", he said, adding that he had a plan to turn Ukraine's economy and politics around and was determined to tour the country.

The Ukrainian border guards told Saakashvili in the presence of a group of journalists that he was forbidden to enter for security reasons, noting that the area around the crossing was "mined".

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