Irakli Grebishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia, said in a press conference on Friday evening, that the third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, was arrested and detained.
Then Saakashvili will first have to go to a prison in the town of Rustavi, 30 kilometers south of the capital, Tbilisi.
Judgment in his absence
Mikheil Saakashvili was president of Georgia until 2012, when he was defeated by the Georgian Dream Party. After that, he left the country to escape prosecution for abuse of power, an accusation that Saakashvili and his supporters claim is politically motivated.
In 2018, the former president was sentenced in absentia to six years in prison. During his exile, Saakashvili largely lived in Ukraine. He announced earlier this week that he would return to Georgia in the run-up to local elections to help “save the country,” according to Reuters.
“I’m not afraid”
In a pre-recorded video on Facebook, the former president speaks to his supporters:
“Most likely, I will now be arrested in Tbilisi, but I want to tell you, I am not afraid.”
“I have risked everything, my life, my freedom, everything, to come here. I only want one thing from you – go and vote.”
Saakashvili is a Ukrainian citizen, and the country’s Foreign Ministry reacted swiftly after his arrest. Reuters reported that the Georgian ambassador in Kiev was contacted.
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