Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili posted a wordy statement about former President Mikheil Saakashvili, detained on October 1 on abuse of power charges following his return from Ukraine, to weigh in on the potential reasons and objectives of Saakashvili’s arrival.
After dismissing several versions, like Saakashvili’s “thirst for power,” “egoism,” “jealousy” over other UNM leaders, or purported drug-addiction clouting his judgment, Garibashvili asserted “the most logical” version was the one according to which Saakashvili arrived with hopes to overthrow the government.
The intention “was destined for failure,” as according to the Prime Minister, the government could disperse – with water cannons or “asphyxiant gas*” – “his 5,000 people rally” supposedly scheduled for October 3, after the polling day of October 2 local elections, and “easily arrest Saakashvili.”
“Saakashvili might not have remembered that Giorgi Gakharia is no longer a Prime Minister, and today the ruling team is united as never before,” said Garibashvili.
The Prime Minister suggested Saakashvili hoped for success because of years of self-deception and delusions. In 2003, Garibashvili said, Saakashvili and the United National Movement “easily” overthrew the government as state institutions were weak. Adding that they had committed “numerous crimes” during their time in power, PM asserted their “seizure of almost all media outlets, allowed them to paint all their failures as a success.”
“Saakashvili sang ‘Misha Magaria’ [Misha’s Cool] to himself and believed his own lies,” he said referring to the song praising the ex-President for his deeds. [Saakashvili is commonly known as Misha, as per his nickname – editorial note].
Noting that Saakashvili’s tendency to self-deception has remained to this day, PM Garibashvili said “the [United] National Movement and its propagandistic partisan TV networks” have tried to advance the myth of a “failed state.” “It is clear, they believed in their own lies.”
Irakli Garibashvili asserted that Saakashvili failed because, notwithstanding his expectations, he was met by a “well-organized state system.”
PM Garibashvili said Saakashvili’s “psychological and psychiatric state” changed “radically” from the moment he was detained. “[United] National Movement is anxious over its leader’s difficult condition and over his demands to be released from prison immediately. He [Saakashvili] says he is neither Merabishvili nor Akhalaia, and he will not tolerate staying in prison for a long time.”
Garibashvili added that the UNM members were disturbed by the ex-President’s condition, but had “no idea what to do.” “He went into the prison smiling, and now all he cares about is to leave the jail,” Garibashvili concluded.
Saakashvili, currently a citizen of Ukraine, left the country in November 2013 amid the end of his second presidential term, was wanted by the Georgian Dream government on multiple charges. PM Garibashvili announced Saakashvili’s detention on October 1, the eve of election, after GD leaders denied former President’s announced arrival throughout the day.
The former President was sentenced in absentia in 2018 on two separate abuse of power charges – three years for pardoning the former Interior Ministry officials, convicted in the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani, and six years for organizing an attack on opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili.
The Prosecutor’s Office said in a late-night briefing on October 1 that the Interior Ministry is also leading an investigation over Saakashvili’s illegal border crossing. In this regard, new charges may be brought against Saakashvili under Article 344 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, punishable by three to five years of prison.
In his letter penned in jail, former President Saakashvili said yesterday he came back to Georgia “to help our people restore freedom and democracy. As expected, the regime arrested me.”
Noting that “I remain a free man even behind the bars,” Saakashvili said he continues hunger strike and “will not stop it under any circumstances until I and the people arrested because of me are released.” “I love life, but this hunger strike will be until the end of my life.”
*asphyxiant gas changed to tear gas in an amended version of the statement.