Stateless Ex-Georgian President Is Holed Up In New YorkThe polarizing politician who fought a war with Russia in 2008 and later moved to Ukraine has been stripped of his Ukrainian and Georgian citizenship. Now he’s camping out in New York.
Here’s what happens when you lose a war to Russia, become unpopular in your own country, get stripped of your citizenship, move to Ukraine, and get stripped of your citizenship there, too: You camp out in the United States.
Mikheil Saakashvili, once the president of Georgia, later the governor of the Odessa region of Ukraine, is hunkering down in New York and plotting his next moves, two individuals close to the ex-president tell BuzzFeed News.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine’s migration service announced the revocation of Saakashvili's Ukrainian citizenship, citing unspecified documents it received from Tbilisi, Georgia's capital. At the time, Saakashvili was visiting friends and family in upstate New York and the removal of his citizenship came as a "huge surprise," his representative, Zoe Reyners, said in a phone interview.
Saakashvili, a one-time ally of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and a darling of the George W. Bush administration, was widely credited with cleaning up Georgia’s notoriously corrupt police force and cracking down on graft during his reign as president from 2004 to 2013. During the middle of his tenure, though, he got entangled in a devastating five-day warwith Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. He later became deeply unpopular after a prison abuse scandal and an array of other allegations related to abuses of power.