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Georgia’s ex-president Saakashvili plans to return to Georgia — media

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

TBILISI, April 3. /TASS/. Georgia’s former President Mikhail Saakashvili said on Tuesday he wants to return to his homeland.

In a video address aired by the Tbilisi-based Rustavi-2 television company, Saakashvili said he planned to "return to Georgia to improve the social situation in the country, together with the team."

"Georgia’s government is to changed this year, after the presidential election (October-November 2018 - TASS). I will come to Georgia and, together with my team, we will implement all the programs we plan," he pledged.

Mikhail Saakashvili was Georgia’s president from January 2004 to November 2007 and from January 2008 to mid-November 2013, when he left the country several days before his office term expired. Later on, he lived in the United States and Ukraine.

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.

After he was granted Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, his Georgian citizenship was terminated in December 2015. While in Ukraine, he worked in Kiev as chief of the International Reform Council and was appointed Odessa governor in late May 2015 to step down in November 2016. After vacating the post, he set up his own party, criticizing the authorities in power. In July 2017, while Saakashvili was in the United States, Poroshenko stripped him of the Ukrainian citizenship. In February 2018, Saakashvili was expelled to Poland, from where he moved to the Netherlands. There, he was granted an ID card and a permit to live and work in the European Union.

Meanwhile, 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.