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Saakashvili launches fight to regain Georgian citizenship

The former Georgian president believes he was stripped of his Georgian citizenship with violations

TBILISI, July 2. /TASS/. Georgia’s former President Mikhail Saakashvili claims back his Georgian citizenship and a role in the political activity of his home country.

In an interview with Tbilisi-based Rustavi2 television on Sunday, the politician, currently in New York, demanded back his citizenship from Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili. "I demand that the president restore my Georgian citizenship," he stated.

The former Georgian president believes he was stripped of his Georgian citizenship with violations. According to Saakashvili, the current Georgian authorities are aiming to ban him from the country's political life. The politician also demanded that he be given a possibility to return home.

On Monday, the head of the Georgian presidential administration, Georgy Abashishvili, commented on the interview, telling reporters that Saakashvili had renounced his Georgian citizenship of his own free will.

"He knows very well that it was not Giorgi Margvelashvili who stripped him of citizenship. Saakashvili himself personally and knowingly renounced his Georgian citizenship in favor of Ukrainian citizenship. Moreover, he has never requested back his Georgian citizenship since then," Abashishvili said.

Saakashvili case

Saakashvili served as Georgia’s President from January 2004 to November 2007 and from January 2008 to mid-November 2013. In November 2013, he left the country two days before his term of office expired and new President Giorgi Margvelashvili was sworn in. In May 2015, Saakashvili was granted Ukrainian citizenship, which resulted in his Georgian citizenship being terminated by the decision of the Georgian president.

Saakashvili served as Odessa Region Governor from May 30, 2015, to November 9, 2016, but then tendered his resignation. On July 26, 2017, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship, and in February 2018 the Ukrainian authorities expelled him to Poland. Then he moved to the Netherlands where he got an ID-card permitting him to reside and work there.

In 2014, Georgian prosecutors brought several charges against Saakashvili. 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; organization 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.

The City Court of Tbilisi on January 5, 2018 sentenced Saakashvili in absentia to three years in prison after probing into the 2006 murder of banker Sandro Girgvliani. The politician was found guilty under the article Abuse of Office. Formally, the court sentenced him to four years, but in view of the law On Amnesty, the term was cut to three years. Saakashvili was also stripped of the right to hold office in Georgia’s public sector for 18 months.