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Russian diplomat calls situation around Saakashvili 'disgrace' for Ukrainian people

Saakashvili was Georgia’s president from January 2004 to November 2007 and from January 2008 to November 2013
Mikhail Saakashvili AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Mikhail Saakashvili
© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. The situation that is unfolding in Ukraine around Mikhail Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine’s Odessa who now leads the Ukrainian opposition Movement of New Forces, is a disgrace for the Ukrainian people, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

"It is a disgrace for the Ukrainian people: a man from outside is at the helm of political processes and destabilizes the situation by playing dirty games. All he is doing is destructive," she said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. "It is a problem of the Georgian people too."

"The problem is that his one of the most hyped Georgians in the world and his inadequate behavior casts shadow on the entire nation," Zakharova added.

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, 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.

Ukraine rejected Georgia’s extradition requests for Saakashvili twice, in 2014 and 2015, despite the Georgia-Ukraine agreement of 1995 envisaging extradition of wanted persons.

In early September, Saakashvili, backed by a crowd of supporters, managed to enter Ukraine to be later accused of illegal border crossing. Since October, he has been organizing mass protest rallies and marches in Kiev. On December 5, police tried to take him into custody at a tent camp in central Kiev, but his supporters put up fierce resistance to the police and managed to have him freed.

Several days later, Saakashvili was ultimately detained on charges of receiving about 500,000 US dollars from Russia to finance anti-government and anti-presidential rallies. However, he was released several days later.