Ex-President of Georgia Saakashvili Arrested in Kyiv, Again

Georgia’s ex-President, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is also Ukraine’s former Odessa Governor and active opposition leader, was detained in Kyiv while he was having lunch in Georgian restaurant Sulguni on Monday afternoon.

The information about Saakashvili’s arrest was released by his close ally and spokesperson, former Georgian official, David Sakvarelidze, who took Facebook to express his protest about the incident.

Sakvarelidze also posted a video of Saakashvili’s arrest, adding the men who came after him were dressed in uniforms and drove Saakashvili away in white minivan.

The arrest came after a series of Ukrainian court rulings against the former Governor, who was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship last year after a falling out with President Petro Poroshenko.

Ukrainian news outlet Kyivpost reports the State Border Service spokesman said on the evening of February 12 that Saakashvili was deported to Poland. Several hours before Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) spokeswoman denied that the SBU was involved in Saakashvili’s detention. A spokeswoman for the General Prosecutor’s Office said that “today’s events relating to Saakashvili are outside the purview of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine.”

Last week, Saakashvili’s lawyer Ruslan Chernalutsky, warned that he could face imminent deportation or extradition after he lost a court appeal over granting him a refugee status.

"This indicates that the government wants to illegally deport him from the country. We have photos of the minivans that arrived near the restaurant where Saakashvili was dining. Everything refers to the desire of Saakashvili's unlawful deportation," said Chernalutsky.

According to him, it is not known who specifically kidnapped Saakashvili, as the people did not present documents. 

Saakashvili was the third President of Georgia from 2004-2007, and again in 2008-2013.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, when appointing him as the Governor of Odessa. 

In December 2015, Georgian authorities stripped Saakashvili of Georgian citizenship as dual citizenship is not allowed in Georgia. 

In November 2016, Saakashvili quit his post of Odessa Governor and formed an opposition party, and was seen heavily criticizing Ukrainian authorities, which led to a disagreement between Poroshenko and the ex-Georgian President.

Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship in July. He has several times requested asylum in Ukraine, on the grounds of a person in need of special protection, which in turn stops him being extradited to another country, however his request was denied.

On January 5, 2018, Tbilisi City Court found Saakashvili guilty of abuse of power in the Alexander Girgvliani murder case. He is also wanted for several more charges.

In case Saakashvili is deported to Georgia, he faces immediate imprisonment.

By Thea Morrison

Photo source: Chatham House


12 February 2018 18:30