Saakashvili’s lawyer rules out any attempt to extradite his client to Ukraine

The lawyer of the ex-president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, who was arrested the day before his arrival, does not expect his client to be extradited to Ukraine, but rejects all charges brought against the ex-president.

“I can’t even imagine such a procedure,” said the lawyer Beka Basilaia, who, according to the official Sputnik news agency, assured that all charges against her client were based on an invention.

Saakashvili’s lawyer rules out any attempt to extradite his client to Ukraine
Saakashvili’s lawyer rules out any attempt to extradite his client to Ukraine

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced on Friday the arrest of Saakashvili after he returned to his country the same day, a day before local elections were held and after eight years abroad after fleeing mid-year, allegations against him for embezzlement and representation of a protest during his tenure.

After the arrest, the country’s president, Salome Zurabishvili, gave a televised address in which she assured that she would “never” grant the ex-president a pardon. He also took the opportunity to thank the security forces for their work during the operation, which had been carried out “at a high professional level” and “peacefully”.

According to Zurabishvili, former President Saakashvili made “an unacceptable decision when he resigned,” on Friday when he “entered the territory in violation of the state border and the law and tried to undermine the authority of the police.” . been arrested. “And most clearly, with the intention of destabilizing the country,” criticized the president, citing the “advice and warnings” that the former president had received in this regard.

On the same Saturday, the President of the Georgian Parliament, Kaja Kuchava, assured that the arrest of Saakashvili will not affect relations between Tbilisi and Kiev. “Nothing will strain the Georgian-Ukrainian fraternal relations (…) The arrest of the leader of the National Movement is a good example of the fact that provocations have no place in Georgia,” Kuchava said at a press conference.

The arrival of the former president has caused a stir on the Georgian political scene. The chairman of the ruling Georgian dream party, Irakli Kobajidze, assured that the former president had not entered the national territory and was a “clown”.

For her part, MEP Marketa Gregorova, a member of an election observation mission for the European Parliament, warned last week that Saakashvili’s return could make the elections difficult and destabilize.

Saakashvili, who implemented several reforms of rapprochement with the West during his tenure and was involved in a brief conflict with Russia in 2008 – which resulted in the loss of the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia – has a pending arrest warrant for embezzlement and repression, for which the authorities have had several times before warned that the former president will be arrested as soon as he enters the country.

After leaving the presidency, he left Georgia. In 2015, the then President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, granted him Ukrainian citizenship and appointed him governor of the Odessa region, from which he resigned a year and a half later due to a disagreement with Poroshenko.

Poroshenko then issued a decree in 2017 to revoke citizenship from Saakashvili, who had returned from Poland on foot after spending time abroad, supported by a group of supporters. After leading a series of protests, he was arrested again in 2018 and expelled from Ukraine.

However, when Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky came to power, the former Georgian president regained his status and citizenship and was appointed chairman of the National Reform Committee of the Ukrainian government by the president.

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