The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service (DPSU) confirmed that opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili had been deported to Poland on Monday, February 12. According to a statement released by a DPSU spokesperson at approximately 17:30 (local time), Saakashvili was detained for violating Ukrainian law by illegally entering the country from Poland in September 2017. Unidentified men arrested Saakashvili while he was at a restaurant near the headquarters of his New Forces party in Kyiv. He was then reportedly taken to the Boryspil International Airport (KBP) and flown to Poland. Protests against Saakashvili’s deportation may occur in the coming hours and days in Kyiv.
Tensions are high in Kyiv amid an ongoing political crisis centered on opposition leader, and former Odessa governor and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Police officials have accused Saakashvili of organizing protests funded by organized crime groups tied to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych; he has denied the charges. Police attempted to arrest Saakashvili on December 5, but he was freed following clashes between police and his supporters. He was arrested again on December 8, triggering additional protests and clashes between protesters and police. He was released on December 11.
Saakashvili is an ardent opponent of corruption in Ukraine and is calling for sweeping political reforms. He was appointed governor of Odessa in 2015, but resigned in November 2016 over complaints of rampant corruption. Since then, Saakashvili has been an outspoken critic of Poroshenko's government. In July 2017, President Poroshenko revoked Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship, which he had gained as governor of Odessa, leaving Saakashvili stateless; he had previously forfeited his Georgian citizenship when he took Ukrainian citizenship. On September 10, Saakashvili forced his way across the Polish border into Ukraine to continue his anti-corruption campaign.
Individuals in Kyiv are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, obey any instructions issued by the local authorities, and anticipate increased travel times due to traffic congestion and increased security measures surrounding potential protests. Due to the underlying terrorist threat amid the ongoing high sociopolitical tensions, remain vigilant and report any suspicious objects or behavior to the local authorities or your security officer.
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