Ukraine strips one of its president’s rivals of his citizenship
30-07-2017, 05:50

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Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president, had become a threat to the power of Petro Poroshenko

 

 

 

In November 2016 Mr Saakashvili resigned and went into opposition. On July 26th the authorities announced that Mr Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship had been annulled. Since Georgia’s government had revoked his Georgian citizenship when he took the Ukrainian one, he is now potentially stateless and stranded in New York, where he fled after falling out with Mr Poroshenko.

 

The Ukrainian migration service charged Mr Saakashvili with failing to report that he was under criminal investigation in Georgia when he applied for Ukrainian citizenship (a fact of which everyone in the country was aware). Most observers see it simply as the sidelining of a political rival. The move “returns Ukraine to the traditions of [former President Viktor] Yanukovych, to the times of manipulating the law for personal benefit and selective justice,” declared an editorial in Ukrainskaya Pravda, an influential news website.

 

Mr Saakashvili’s political prospects in Ukraine had already dimmed. The party he founded, the Movement of New Forces, currently polls around 2%. But his banishment is a bad omen for Ukraine. Western backers saw the reform-minded foreigners in the upper echelons of the Ukrainian government, including many Georgians who came along with Mr Saakashvili, as a sign of the new leadership’s commitment to change after the revolution. Most have since departed, citing resistance to anti-corruption reform and pressure from political insiders.

 

When Mr Saakashvili resigned his governorship, he accused the president of lacking the will to fight corruption. “What does it matter to Ukrainians who will treat them like dirt, Poroshenko or Yanukovych? What does it matter who will steal from them?” he said at the time. By stripping Mr Saakashvili of citizenship, Mr Poroshenko seemed to be delivering a final repudiation of the post-revolutionary era’s hopeful ethos. Some compared it to Mr Yanukovych’s jailing of his leading rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, in 2011.

 

The attack on Mr Saakashvili also serves as an opening salvo in Ukraine’s next presidential election campaign. Mr Poroshenko will stand for a second term in 2019, and his administration is already preoccupied with securing his re-election. While Mr Poroshenko has managed to stabilise Ukraine’s economy, with the help of the International Monetary Fund, he has largely lost the support of the population. Recent polls show him trailing the resurgent Ms Tymoshenko in a presidential contest. Some 70% of Ukrainians believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

 

 

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SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam while he watches U.S. actions a little longer, the North's state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea's president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam while he watches U.S. actions a little longer, the North's state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea's president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

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