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Georgia “didn’t ask” for Saakashvili’s extradition

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, July 20
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated during his visit to Tbilisi that the extradition of Georgia’s third, President Mikheil Saakashvili, who remains wanted in Georgia, is dependent on a formal request from Georgia’s Government.

“We have effective communication with the Government of Georgia, but we have not yet received a request to extradite Saakashvili,” Poroshenko stated.

He stressed that Georgia and Ukraine have “no problems in relations” and “no one and nothing can divide our people”.

Poroshenko later claimed that he made a mistake, and announced Georgia had indeed requested Saakashvili’s extradition but he had not been informed.

He said it is good when a President is not involved in legal issues.

“Unfortunately I did not know about [this]. I have rechecked the information. But I am glad that the issue was being discussed without the President’s involvement.

“Now I have asked for additional information and was told that Ukraine issued a negative response over the extradition and demanded additional evidence,” Poroshenko stated.

Poroshenko stressed that the decision over Saakashvili’s extradition must be made by law enforcement agencies, as this is a legal issue.

“If criminal activities are confirmed, of course, we will act appropriately,” Poroshenko said.

Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani stated that Georgia had requested Saakashvili’s extradition from Ukraine twice and received negative answers in both cases.

She stressed Georgia had sent all evidences and necessary information "proving Saakashvili’s guilt.”

“Based on the sent information Ukraine can now make the decision that should be made,” Tsulukiani stated.

Before Poroshenko’s arrival in Georgia, Saakashvili stated one of the issues discussed in Tbilisi would be his extradition.

Saakashvili is in Ukraine now, and possesses Ukrainian citizenship.

However, unlike previous years, he now has bad relations with Poroshenko, his former university friend.

Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili as Odessa Governor in May 2015, but in November 2016 the Georgian ex-President quit the post, accusing Poroshenko of lobbying for corruption.

Saakashvili, who served as Georgia’s third president from 2004 to 2007, and again from 2008 to 2013, announced his resignation as Odessa’s governor at a special press conference on November 7, 2016.

Saakashvili said that despite his resignation, he would continue his fight against corruption in Ukraine along with “young and honest forces”.

In 2014, Saakashvili was officially charged for his role in several crimes in Georgia, however by the time his case went through court he was already in Ukraine.

Saakashvili is accused of the violent dispersal of anti-governmental mass protests on November 7, 2007; the unlawful raiding of the Imedi television company by riot police, and the illegal take-over of property owned by late media tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Prior to his appointment as Odessa Governor, Saakashvili received Ukrainian citizenship, which automatically revoked his Georgian citizenship as Georgian legislation prohibited people from holding dual citizenship except for in exceptional circumstances.

Saakashvili is no longer a Georgian citizen, and if he returned to Georgia he will face a court of law.

It is interesting that Poroshenko stated that Georgia did not request Saakashvili’s extradition, and he actively avoided questions over the matter.

Until 2016, Saakashvili was in Poroshenko’s team, at the same time as considerable tension between the Georgian and Ukrainian leaderships.

Poroshenko held his meetings in Georgia only after the souring of relations with Saakashvili.

Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page about Poroshenko’s statements over his extradition that if such a decision is made it will be a violation of Ukraine’s legislation, as well as international law.

It is unclear how Ukraine will act in such a situation.

If the country moves to extradite Saakashvili, he is likely to try to find shelter in another country.

It is, however, unlikely that he will return to Georgia.