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Ukraine Opposition Leader 'Kidnapped', Deported to Poland


Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili speaks with journalists near the Fairmont Grand Hotel in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Saakashvili claimed that unidentified armed people wearing military uniform tried to arrest him inside the hotel on Friday.

Ukraine opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili has been deported to Poland, officials said Monday, after he claimed to have been kidnapped by "unknown people in masks" in Kyiv.

"This person was on Ukrainian territory illegally and therefore, in compliance with all legal procedures, he was returned to the country from where he arrived," Ukraine border service spokesman Oleh Slobodyan said in a post on Facebook.

Hours earlier, a post of Saakashvili's official Facebook claimed that "Unknown people in masks seized Mikheil Saakashvili and took him away."

"The kidnappers were in three white minivans," it added.

Also posted on his Facebook page was an unconfirmed video from a "witness" of his kidnapping, which shows commotion surrounding a number of masked men in what appears to be camouflage exiting a restaurant.

Saakashvili's lawyer had warned last week that he may face extradition from Ukraine after his appeal for protection was rejected by a Kyiv court.

Kyiv police were not involved in the operation Monday, Reuters reported.

Saakashvili, 49, became a regional governor in Ukraine in 2015 at the invitation of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. The two men later had a falling out, with Saakashvili accusing the president of corruption and calling for his removal from office.

Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship when he was out of the country last year but returned in September, facing what he calls politically motivated extradition. He accused Poroshenko of attempting to thwart his political campaign against him.

Saakashvili is also wanted in his native Georgia for alleged abuse of power. He was president of Georgia from 2004 until 2013.