Georgia’s ex-President Saakashvili says ready to return to Georgia as soon as he is needed

TBILISI, December 2. /TASS/. Georgia’s ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is currently staying in the Netherlands, said on Sunday he is ready to return to his home country.

In his video address to a rally of supporters of the formerly ruling party United National Movement (UNM), Saakashvili said he doesn’t “recognize the results of the presidential elections” and supports the demand for early parliamentary polls.

“As soon as I am needed, as soon as you ask me to come, I will be back in Georgia and will fight for our goals together with you,” he said.

The runoff presidential elections were held in Georgia on November 28, with Salone Zurabishvili, an independent candidate supported by the ruling party Georgian Dream, and Grigor Vashadze, a UNM candidate, vying for the presidential office. According to the official results announced by the Central Election Commission on Thursday, Zurabishvili won 59.52% of the vote, while Vashadze managed to score 40.48%

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.

On June 28, 2018, the City Court of Tbilisi sentenced Saakashvili in absentia to six years behind bars after a probe into the assault and battery of lawmaker Valery Gelashvili.

Georgia’s interior ministry warned Saakashvili that he would be detained as soon as he crossed the country’s border.

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