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Ukraine receives new request from Georgia on Saakashvili’s extradition

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, September 7
The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine has stated they have received a request from Georgia asking them to detain and extradite ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili when he enters Ukraine.

Deputy Justice Minister Sergiy Petukhov stated that the request was sent to them by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG).

“According to the Georgian prosecutor general's office, Saakashvili is accused of abuse of power, committed by violence or use of weapons, and deliberate infliction of grievous harm to health, as well as abuse of office, " Petukhov said.

The POG of Georgia sent another copy of the request to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine.

The request of the Georgian side reads that the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine is in charge of the extradition applications for cases pending court decisions, such as those involving Saakashvili.

The POG listed the charges brought against by Saakashvili in Georgia:

1. Abuse of official powers by a public political official.

2. Dispersing the 2007 anti-government protests as well as for the raid on Imedi TV station.

3. Organizing an attack against then-opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili, who was severely beaten by masked, armed men in Tbilisi in 2005.

4. For embezzlement of state budget funds in large quantities committed with prior agreement by a group using official positions.

“Currently, all relevant legal proceedings specified by the law are being conducted,” the Georgian POG stated.

This is the third request sent from Georgia to Ukraine.

Saakashvili's representative, Olena Galabala, said that if there are any questions regarding the extradition of Saakashvili, then firstly they need to let him into Ukraine and then resolve this issue.

“Otherwise it looks like intimidation,” she added.

Saakashvili's spokeswoman and the ex-president’s brother, David, were both questioned by authorities on the weekend.

"In this way they are trying to influence me to change my mind about coming back," Saakashvili said in a post on Facebook.

The Ukrainian Justice Ministry stated that David Saakashvili's permission to reside in Ukraine had been annulled because his work permit had been withdrawn.

"We didn't detain him. The Kiev police ensured the delivery of a Georgian citizen to the migration services,” the spokesperson of the ministry, Artem Shevchenko, stated.

The former president’s lawyer in Georgia, Beka Basilaia, says that there is no evidence against Saakashvili and his extradition request is politically motivated.

“The new extradition request sent by Georgia is directly linked with Saakashvili’s political activities…and has nothing to do with legal procedures,” the lawyer said.

Basilaia added that Saakashvili is the victim of an agreement made by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Georgia’s former Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, tycoon Bidzina Ivanisvili.

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.

After this, Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26 while the latter was visiting the United States.

At present, the third president of Georgia remains without citizenship. He plans to return to Ukraine via Poland on September 10.