Police beefed up security outside Ukraine’s parliament and government buildings in Kiev on Tuesday in anticipation of a rally by Georgian ex-president and former Odessa Region’s governor Mikhail Saakashvili and his supporters.
Traffic was blocked on Grushevsky Street in central Kiev and hundreds of law enforcement officers in two cordons were deployed to the entrances of the Verkhovna Rada. The National Guard troops will join them soon.
Earlier, supporters of Saakashvili, who is now the leader of the New Forces Movement, sought permission for him to address the Ukrainian lawmakers. The rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700GMT).
Saakashvili, who had been charged with several crimes in Georgia, was granted Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, which resulted in his Georgian citizenship being revoked. Saakashvili served as Ukraine’s Odessa Region Governor, but in November 2016, he stepped down and set up his own party, criticizing the authorities in power. On July 26, 2017, while Saakashvili was in the United States, Poroshenko stripped him of the Ukrainian citizenship. Since then, Saakashvili, who doesn’t have legal rights to enter Ukraine, has been staying in several European countries.
On September 10, Saakashvili and his supporters broke through a police cordon at the Shegeni checkpoint at the Polish-Ukrainian border to cross into Ukraine. During the incident, 22 Ukrainian law enforcement officers were injured.
Police in western Ukraine’s Lvov, where Saakashvili arrived to meet his party’s supporters, launched criminal proceedings into the illegal border crossing. This crime is punishable by up to five years behind bars. Police also launched a criminal investigation into Saakashvili’s resistance to police and hooliganism.
After crossing the border, Saakashvili has visited Ukraine’s Chernovtsy, Herson, Ivano-Frankovsk and Vinnitsa where he met with his supporters.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General Yuri Lutsenko earlier said Saakashvili would not be arrested for crossing the border. He also vowed that the politician would not be deported to Georgia until all legal issues related to the case were solved.