Saakashvili Supporters Force Entry Into Ukraine

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Saakashvili Supporters Force Entry Into Ukraine

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - A day after forcing his way past border guards back into Ukraine, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said he would unite the opposition against his former ally President Petro Poroshenko and planned to campaign for support.

On Saturday evening, Mikheil Saakashvili assisted by his supporters burst into Ukrainian territory by force, despite efforts by the the country's authorities to block his entrance, which was announced weeks in advance.

Footage taken by an RFE/RL reporter on a mobile phone shows a crowd of Saakashvili's supporters marching and singing the Ukrainian national anthem after he had crossed the border.

He said Saakashvili should have contested the decree stripping him of citizenship in court if he disagreed with it. But while perhaps not a threat as a direct rival, Saakashvili could prove to be an effective weapon against Poroshenko for powerful opposition figures like Yulia Tymoshenko, who was with him at the border on Sunday.

Ukraine's president on Monday criticized former governor Mikhail Saakashvili for illegally crossing into Ukraine from Poland.

Georgia, where Saakashvili faces accusations of abuse of power and misappropriation of property, has sent an extradition request for him to Ukraine.

"Saakashvili as a politician of the past".

"We need new people". Ukraine is fed up with the old corrupt political class.

Saakashvili was appointed governor of Odessa in 2015 on the strength of his record of fighting corruption as Georgian president between 2004 and 2013.

Saakashvili divides opinion in Ukraine, which is at war with Russia-backed rebels in its east.

But a bitter spat erupted in November 2016, a year after Poroshenko invited Saakashvili to be the governor of the region of Odessa to help drive reforms.

The president said Saakashvili should have used Ukrainian courts to challenge the revocation. "This is very sad", Saakashvili said Friday in Warsaw.

He has brandished his Ukrainian passport on several occasions and also maintains that officials working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva have confirmed his status as "stateless in Ukraine", meaning he has the right to be there to appeal against Poroshenko's decision to withdraw his citizenship.

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