Georgian Lawyers Want ex-President Saakashvili Fined for Political Activity

TBILISI - Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) on Tuesday called on the Supreme Election Commission of Adjaria to impose a fine against former President Mikheil Saakashvili for illegally taking part in pre-election campaigning as a foreign citizen.

Saakashvili, who currently serves as the Governor of Ukraine’s strategic Odessa region, was stripped of his Georgian passport in December 2015 after he was found guilty of violating Georgia’s ban on dual citizenship.

At a July 31 meeting of party faithful in the Black Sea port city Batumi, the UNM presented its list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in October. Saakashvili addressed the party gathering via video from Odessa and called upon them to vote for the UNM.

According to Georgia’s election laws, foreign citizens are barred from formally taking part in the country’s campaign process.

Citing his alleged violation, GYLA demanded that the authorities fine Saakashvili 200-GEL for the infraction.
Saakashvili responded to the allegations in a post on his Facebook page on August 2, saying he is surprised by GYLA’s claim.

“No fine will ever frighten me into stopping the fight against the great injustice that exists in our homeland," he said.
According to Saakashvili, his citizenship of Georgia was revoked on the order of his bitter political rival, the eccentric billionaire oligarch, former prime minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“I remain faithful to my country. Citizenship is not defined by a piece of paper, signed by Russia’s oligarch puppets," Saakashvili said in his Facebook post.

According to President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s office, as a Ukrainian citizen, Saakashvili has no right to participate in any political activities in Georgia.

“We cannot accept the fact that Mr. Saakashvili is trying to stain the reputation of one of the most influential observer organizations in the country. They play a very important role in the pre-election cycle,” Presidential spokeswoman Ana Dolidze said.

Dolidze was quick to point out that Saakashvili’s political activities in Georgia, as a Ukrainian citizen, could do damage to bilateral relations between the two former Soviet republics.

By Thea Morrison
Edited by Nicholas Waller

03 August 2016 12:59