Saakashvili Releases Video, Urges Adjaria Region Residents to Support UNM

TBILISI - Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who currently serves as the Governor of Ukraine’s strategic Odessa region, released a video Tuesday that addressed the population of the Black Sea Adjaria region.

In the video, Saakashvili reminded the viewers of the major reforms that took place in Adjaria and its capital Batumi, while he and his United National Movement (UNM party was in power.

“What we did in Batumi doesn’t even amount to 20 per cent of what should have been done there. We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Saakashvili.

In the video, he called on the Adjarian population to vote for local UNM candidate Levan Varshalomidze, a former Chairman of the Adjarian Government, who recently returned from Ukraine to take part in the upcoming October parliamentary elections.

According to Saakashvili, the UNM has large several large-scale development and reform projects planned for the region.
“I am carefully watching the developments there, and I look forward to coming back to Georgia,” Saakashvili said in his video.

Tuesday’s video was Saakashvili second appeal to voters in Adjaria. On July 31, he urged Adjarian residents to cast their ballot for the UNM in October.

Georgia’s Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) immediately pounced on his comments and urged the authorities to prosecute Saakashvili for violating the country’s election laws.

According to Georgia’s election code, foreign citizens are barred from formally taking part in the country’s campaign process. GYLA called on the Supreme Election Commission of Adjaria to impose a fine against Saakashvili for illegally taking part in the pre-election campaign.

The motion was turned down by the Commission on August 9, saying Saakashvili is not a citizen of Georgia and administrative sanctions cannot be used against him.

Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian passport in December 2015 and found guilty of violating Georgia’s ban on dual citizenship after being granted Ukrainian citizenship.

By Thea Morrison

Edited by Nicholas Waller

09 August 2016 16:12