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Former Georgian Leader Returns to Ukraine

Georgia's ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili gestures as he speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Boryspil Airport, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, May 29, 2019.

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has returned to his adopted homeland of Ukraine a day after its new leader reinstated his citizenship.

Saakashvili became a Ukrainian citizen in 2015 after giving up citizenship of his native Georgia, where he faced abuse-of-power charges related to his time as president in 2004-13.

He moved to Ukraine and was appointed governor of Odessa region by then-President Petro Poroshenko. The two fell out, and Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in 2017.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, restored Saakashvili’s citizenship, allowing the former lawmaker to return.

Saakashvili praised Zelenskiy for a “quick and brave” decision.

He also hinted at a possible return to the political arena, promising reporters gathered at Kyiv’s airport on Wednesday that he would help make Ukraine “the most successful country in Europe.”