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Georgian President says will not pardon Mikhail Saakashvili

Salome Zurabishvili added that Mikhail Saakashvili arrived in Georgia to destabilize it despite all warnings

TBILISI, October 1. /TASS/. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili said Friday that she will not pardon ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili, detained earlier on Friday.

"Today, many people asked whether the president plans to pardon him. There is only one answer, simple and final - no and never," Zurabishvili said in her televised address.

She added that Mikhail Saakashvili arrived in Georgia to destabilize it despite all warnings.

"He came to the country to introduce destabilization, despite all advice and warnings of all international partners," she said.

She thanked the law enforcement agencies, noting that everybody is equal before the law.

Earlier on Friday, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced Saakashvili’s apprehension. According to media reports, the ex-President is currently in the Rustavi city prison located several dozen kilometers away from Tbilisi. Before that, Saakashvili said on Facebook that he returned to his homeland after eight years of absence right before the regional elections that will take place on October 2.

Saakashvili served as President of Georgia between 2004 and 2013. He left the country several days before the end of his term. Immediately after that, several criminal cases have been opened against him, with verdicts already announced on two. In particular, he was sentenced to three years over the United Bank of Georgia employee Sandro Girgvliani murder case, and to six years in prison over the lawmaker Valery Gelashvili battery case.

Recently, Saakashvili, who also has a Ukrainian citizenship live in Ukraine. During the preparation for the October 2 elections, he repeatedly stated his intention to return to Georgia despite the pending arrest warrant there. On October 1, the ex-President posted a video, claiming that he was in Batumi, but the police debunked this statement, telling TASS that he had not yet crossed the border at that moment.