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Georgia denies talks with Ukraine on ex-president Saakashvili’s extradition

December 15, 2017, 6:03 UTC+3 TBILISI

According to earlier reports, the head of the State Security Service of Georgia, Vakhtang Gomelauri, travelled to the Belarusian capital to negotiate the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili

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TBILISI, December 15. /TASS/. Media reports about alleged negotiations in Minsk between Ukraine and Georgian offiicals on the extradition of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili were totally untrue, senior Georgian officials said.

According to earlier reports, the head of the State Security Service of Georgia, Vakhtang Gomelauri, travelled to the Belarusian capital to negotiate the extradition of Saakashvili, charged with power abuse and embezzlement.

"The issue of Saakashvili’s extradition is beyond Vakhtang Gomelauri’s competence. This issue is within the competence of Georgia’s chief prosecutor’s office. This is a purely legal issue, not a political one," said Irakly Sesiashvili, the chairman of the defense and security committee of the Georigan parliament. "Gomelauri is not engaged in any kind of negotiations on Saakashvili’s extradition from Ukraine to Georgia."

Eka Beselia, the chairman of the parliament’s legal affairs committee, also refuted the rumors, saying that Gomelauri’s visit "has a totally different purpose and is not related to the issue of Saakashvili’s extradition in any way."

Saakashvili was Georgia’s president from January 2004 to November 2007 and from January 2008 to November 2013. He left his country in mid-November 2013, days before his presidential term expired. After his departure from Georgia, Saakashvili lived in the United States and Ukraine. He was granted Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, which resulted in his Georgian citizenship being revoked. Before being appointed Odessa governor in late May 2015, he worked in Kiev as chief of the International Reform Council. In November 2016, he stepped down as the Odessa Region governor and set up his own party, criticizing the authorities in power. On July 26, 2017, while Saakashvili was in the United States, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko stripped him of the Ukrainian citizenship.

Georgian prosecutors brought several charges against Saakashvili in 2014. He was charged with a crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in November 2007; illegal intrusion into the building of the Imedi television channel; illegal acquisition of property belonging to businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili; organisation of an armed attack on lawmaker Valery Gelashvili in 2005; covering-up a crime and falsification of an investigation into the 2006 murder of banker Sandro Girgvliani; and misappropriation of about $5 million from state funds in 2009-2012.

In February 2015, the Georgian prosecutor general’s office applied to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office with an extradition request for Saakashvili but the request was turned down despite the Georgia-Ukraine agreement of 1995 envisaging extradition of wanted persons.

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