Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who serves as the honorary chairman of the opposition United National Movement party, says he is not going to seek presidential pardon if UNM-led coalition’s Grigol Vashadze wins the second round of elections.
Saakashvili made the announcement on October 30 in his interview with Rustavi 2 TV’s talk show Archevani, shortly after several Georgian Dream MPs alluded to the possibility of civil confrontation in case Vashadze wins the second round of elections.
The former President said: “I do not need anyone’s pardon; I have not applied to Margvelashvili for pardon and neither will I apply to Vashadze … I have not committed any crimes against Georgia besides the fact that I built the Georgian state.”
“I am not going to ask for presidential pardon … I intend to uphold my rights through legal means, when there will be a normal judiciary system in Georgia,” he added.
Saakashvili also commented on other former officials serving jail time in Georgia, saying as president, Vashadze has to hear the position of the Prosecutor’s Office before making his pardoning decisions about them. “Maybe there are real torturers … maybe there are some who committed offenses and we are not aware of it, President Vashadze is not aware of it.”
Saakashvili then said he does not intend to take any official public posts in Georgia, but stressed that he remains in politics and in the election campaign solely “to help the country exit from this grave crisis.”
The former President touched upon Grigol Vashadze as well, describing him as “an excellent candidate and a great Georgian.” He also stressed Vashadze is supported by a coalition that is “a lot wider than any other political alliance in Georgia and a lot bigger than Saakashvili.”
Saakashvili spoke on Salome Zurabishvili as well, saying she has no moral right to accuse Vashadze of being pro-Russian. “This is the woman, who spoke with pro-Russian channels on August 8-9-10, 2008 telling them that it was the United States and Georgia to be blamed for the war, when it was Russia who attacked us and the U.S. which saved us from it.”
Saakashvili spoke on the upcoming polls in his Facebook live as well, calling for wider opposition coalition for Vashadze’s victory. The ex-President stressed the country needs a broad opposition coalition and multiparty democracy.
He also reassured there “will be no destabilization” in the pre-election period, and that the government will be changed peacefully, through elections. “They have no tools to trigger destabilization; we have to proceed to elections calmly and bid farewell to them,” he said.
Saakashvili also suggested that the opposition candidate will win with 70% of votes. “A lot more voters will come, our support is much bigger than Ivanishvili’s and we will not let him steal these elections,” he added.
Saakashvili also promised that the government change will not be followed with dismissal of public servants from their posts. “The public servants have to know that they won’t be changed on political grounds regardless of who is running the country.”
- Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president in 2004-2013, left the country shortly after the end of his second term. He was appointed as the head of the Odessa region in south-western Ukraine on May 30, 2015, resulting into termination of his Georgian citizenship. He resigned from the post in November 2016, after his relations with Poroshenko soured, becoming an opposition leader and creating his own political party – the Movement of New Forces – in early 2017.
- Poroshenko stripped Mikheil Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26, 2017, when the latter was outside of the country. Saakashvili, however, managed to return to Ukraine forcefully, and launched street rallies against the Ukrainian President. In December 2017, the Ukrainian authorities launched a criminal case against Saakashvili and arrested him twice, but the ex-President was freed from custody first by his supporters, and then by a court decision. He was deported from Ukraine on February 12, 2018. He now lives in the Netherlands.
- Saakashvili is wanted on multiple charges in Georgia, which he denies as politically motivated. He has been actively engaged in the 2018 presidential elections, campaigning extensively for Vashadze through Facebook lives and his appearances at Rustavi 2 TV, a television station leading strongly towards the opposition.