Putin Advises Zelensky to Return Ukrainian Citizenship to Saakashvili

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recommended the President-elect of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to start protecting the human rights of Georgians, namely that of ex-Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, by restoring his Ukrainian citizenship as deprived by Petro Poroshenko in summer 2017.

Russian news agency Tass reports the Russian leader pointed out that Saakashvili "was illegally deprived of citizenship and deported from the country, so it would be fair to bring him back and restore his rights."

“It would be reasonable to start, say, with Georgians, or former Georgians, rather than with Russians. For instance, it would be fair to restore the Ukrainian citizenship of a person who used to be a Georgian but now calls himself a Ukrainian. I mean Mikhail Saakashvili," Putin said.

A few days ago, Zelensky mocked Russia's offer to give passports to his countrymen, saying the document would provide "the right to be arrested".

In a Facebook post rejecting the idea, Zelensky pledged to give citizenship to "suffering" Russians.

Earlier this week, Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed a decree offering people in eastern Ukraine's separatist territories passports. He later said he was mulling extending the scheme to all Ukrainians.

In return, the Ukrainian President-elect stressed he did not believe many of his countrymen would take up the offer.

Saakashvili also commented on the issue, calling Putin a “newly created troll.”

“Vladimir Putin, a newly created troll, we will settle things with the Ukrainians ourselves," Saakashvili posted on his Facebook page.

Moreover, after Zelensky’s victory in the runoff, the former President of Georgia expressed readiness to return to Ukraine.

Saakashvili served as the third president of Georgia in 2004-2013 and the Governor of Ukraine’s Odessa in 2015-2016.

He supported Ukraine's Euromaidan movement and the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. On 30 May 2015, then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed him as Governor of Odessa Oblast. He was also granted Ukrainian citizenship but due to restrictions on dual nationality under Georgian law, was stripped of his Georgian citizenship.

On 7 November 2016, Saakashvili resigned as Governor, blaming Poroshenko personally for enabling corruption in Odessa and in Ukraine overall. Four days later he announced the creation of a new political movement.

On 26 July 2017, Saakashvili, at the time staying in the US, was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko and became a stateless person. He cannot return to Georgia because of the various charges against him.

By Thea Morrison

Related story:

Saakashvili Eager to Return to Ukraine after Zelensky's Victory



30 April 2019 11:04