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President Zelenskyy Calls on Authorities to Transfer Saakashvili Abroad

In his daily address to the Ukrainian People on 19 December, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about the deteriorating health of the imprisoned former President of Georgia and citizen of Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili, and called on the Georgian authorities to transfer him “to one of the clinics of Ukraine, another European country, [or] America.”

“Probably, everyone could see the health condition of Mikheil Saakashvili now. Therefore, I appeal to the people of Georgia, to the authorities of Georgia – it is necessary to show mercy, especially on the eve of Christmas. What is happening to Mykhailo now is cruelty. This does not suit Georgia. This must be stopped. Please make a decision that can save his life,” President Zelenskyy underscored. 

Incumbent chairperson of the opposition United National Movement (UNM) party, Nika Melia reacted to President Zelenskyy’s comments. He praised the “hero” President of Ukraine for raising the issue of Saakashvili during this difficult time for Ukraine. Melia also pointed out that similar calls to the ruling Georgian Dream party have been made by the Council of Europe, the U.S., and other partner countries of Georgia. 

“If we want Europe, the choice is simple; if we want freedom for the country [Georgia], the choice is simple; If we want to be on the right side of history, there is only one choice, saving Mikheil Saakashvili’s health… This new year we have to take a step towards Europe and not backward to Russia…” Melia added.

Reacting to President Zelenskyy’s statement, Mamuka Mdinaradze, Chairperson of the Georgian Dream Parliamentary faction, said Saakashvili returned to Georgia back in 2021 as a result of a special operation, the organizers of which are now behind President Zelenskyy’s statement as well.

“This is a simple assessment. When we talk about the fact that the involvement [of Georgia] in the war was one of the main goals of this special operation, we do not say it randomly, we have the facts… ” According to Mdinaradze, “there have been statements by certain Ukrainian high-ranking officials that today there are no pro-war people in the Georgia government [refers to the people who would have supported Georgia’s involvement in Russia-Ukraine war] but Saakashvili would have done it [would have dragged Georgia into war].”

MP Mdinaradze believes such statements are not accidental and President Zelenskyy’s recent statement should be assessed in this context.

Notably, Saakashvili arrived secretly in Georgia in late September 2021 after eight years in exile and was arrested on 1 October 2021, on the eve of local elections. He has been convicted of two cases in absentia and faces charges in three more. He denies all charges as politically motivated. The Court is currently deliberating on whether Saakashvili’s sentence should be suspended or deferred in light of his rapidly deteriorating health.

On December 22, Moldovan President Maia Sandu joined the Ukrainian President in urging the Georgian government to allow the former president to travel abroad for medical treatment to safeguard his health.

Note: This article was altered on 22 December at 11:30 to reflect President Maia Sandu’s comment.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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