PRZEMYSL, Poland (AP) – The Latest on former Georgia president and Ukraine governor Mikheil Saakashvili’s attempt to enter Ukraine (all times local):
The train that Mikheil Saakashvili wants to ride into Ukraine despite the revocation of his citizenship is being held at a station in Poland.
Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who later became governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, is in a high-visibility campaign to regain the Ukrainian citizenship he was stripped of this summer.
He boarded the train in Przemysl that was to travel to the Ukrainian city of Lviv after abandoning a plan to cross the border by car.
But an announcement on the train’s public address system said it would be held in the station until “a person without the right to enter Ukrainian territory” left.
Saakashvili told journalists on the train that authorities were effectively holding hundreds of passengers hostage.
He said: “Can you imagine what kind of idiots we’re dealing with?”
Mikheil Saakashvili’s strategy for returning to Ukraine despite the revocation of his citizenship has changed.
Instead of trying to cross the border by car, the stateless ex-officeholder boarded a train that runs from the Polish city of Przemysl into the Ukrainian city of Lviv.
Formerly president of Georgia and later governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, Saakashvili has been stateless since Ukraine’s president revoked his citizenship in July. He earlier was stripped of his Georgian passport.
Saakashvili contends the revocation was illegal and that he wants to challenge it in Ukraine.
For weeks, he had declared plans to try to enter Ukraine at the Krakovets border crossing. Hundreds of his supporters have gathered on the Ukrainian side in anticipation.
But he said he would take the train to Lviv because of concern that “provocateurs” could cause trouble.
Mikheil Saakashvili, the former governor of Ukraine’s corruption-plagued Odessa region, has set off from a Polish city to the Ukraine border where he plans to try to re-enter the country that has revoked his citizenship.
Saakashvili told journalists in the Polish city of Rzeszow on Sunday: “I will not give up until I can cross the border.” Rzeszow is about 75 kilometers (45 miles) from the border.
Saakashvili was president of his native Georgia in 2004-2013. He earned plaudits for fighting corruption, but sparked animosity for what critics regarded as authoritarian tendencies.
He went into self-exile after leaving the presidency and was appointed to the Ukrainian governorship in 2015. He resigned about 18 months later, complaining of obstruction.
President Petro Poroshenko rescinded his Ukrainian citizenship in July for reasons that have not been detailed.