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Ukraine can extradite Saakashvili to Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, August 2
Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani said that Ukraine can extradite the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, to Tbilisi, if he returns to Ukraine one day.

She explained that there are no obstacles to transfer Saakashvili to Georgia, as he was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship around a week ago.

The minister says that Georgia demanded the handover of Mikheil Saakashvili from Ukraine for four different criminal cases dating back to when he was still a citizen of Georgia, but the request was rejected. According to her, the Prosecutor's Office addressed Ukraine twice, in 2014 and 2015, to extradite the ex-president of Georgia. However, the Ukrainians did not satisfy the demand because they saw ‘discriminatory signs’ in the request, and because the Ukrainian constitution forbids the extradition of Ukrainian citizens.

Tsulukiani says that the Ukrainians have changed their position lately, but as Saakashvili is not on the territory of Ukraine, they cannot extradite him now.

“As soon as Saakashvili arrives in Ukraine, they can hand him over on the basis of our request sent to Ukraine two years ago,” she added.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26 while the latter was visiting the United States.

Saakashvili was the third president of Georgia in 2004-2007 and again from 2008-2013. In 2012, Saakashvili’s United National Movement lost the parliamentary elections against Georgian Dream (GD) Coalition and became the main opposition party.

He was charged on several cases in Georgia in 2014, however, by the time his case went through to court he was already in Ukraine.

Poroshenko granted Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015, when appointing him as the Governor of Odessa.

In December 2015, Georgian authorities stripped Saakashvili of Georgian citizenship as dual citizenship is not allowed in Georgia.

In November 2016, Saakashvili quit his post and formed an opposition party and was seen heavily criticizing the Ukrainian authorities, which led to a disagreement between Poroshenko and the ex-Georgian President.

Now that Saakashvili is without citizenship, if he returns to Ukraine he will be deported to Georgia and arrested on various charges.

He denies all the allegations and claims they are politically motivated.