(KYIV) – On November 18 Ukraine’s Security Services arrested and deported eight Georgian nationals stating the individuals “created threat” for the country’s security.
Ukraine Deports 8 Georgian Citizens
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 21
No details or additional information was released by Ukraine’s authorities.
One of the detainees, Tamaz Shavshishvili, a cameraman of Georgian media outlet Rustavi 2’s Kiev office. Shavshishvili said he was “physically abused and tortured” by members of Ukraine’s SBU - the state security services. He later accused the head of the SBU, Valery Geletey, of personally overseeing the operation.
Following their arrest, the eight detainees were deported and sent by ferry to the Georgian Black Sea port Poti.
Georgia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the individuals in question had been deported and arrived in Poti.
“According to the information released by the Ukrainian Security Service, several Georgian citizens, as a result of jointly held activities of the security services, national police, state immigration and border services, were forced to return to Georgia because of activities that were directed against the interests of the national security of Ukraine,” Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said in its official statement.
Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili, a one-time ally of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the ex-governor of Ukraine’s strategic Odessa region, wrote on the Facebook page that the individuals were deported because of his links to them.
“They were deported for their personal links with me. One is Rustavi-2’s cameraman and the other two were veteran fighters in Donbass,” Saakashvili wrote.
The second individual mentioned by Saakashvili is believed to be Vano Nadiradze, a veteran of Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia in the eastern Donbass region. Nadiradzehas accused Geletey and National Police Deputy Chief Vyacheslav Abroskin of beating him while he was detained.
Saakashvili arrived in Kiev in late 2013 during the Euromaidan Revolution that overthrew Ukraine’s disgraced pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Saakashvili was originally a close ally of Poroshenko and was offered the key post of overseeing Odessa, Ukraine’s most economically important region.
However, the two later fell out. Saakashvili accused Poroshenko of blocking reforms and promoting endemic corruption. He resigned from his post as Odessa Mayor in November 2016 and was later deported by Poroshenko for making false statements on his citizenship application process.
Saakashvili became a Ukrainian passport holder in 2015 shortly before becoming Odessa’s governor. He is now classified as a stateless person after both Ukraine and Georgia stripped him of his citizenship for various violations.
The opposition United National Movement - the party founded by Saakashvili -responded to the incident by holding a rally in front of the Foreign Ministry building in Tbilisi on November 20, condemning the government’s reactions to the deportation.
“The Ministry must have sent a protest note to Ukraine, summon Kiev’s ambassador to Georgiaand take similar steps to adequately respond to the violation of its citizens’ rights,” Salome Samadashvili from the United National Movement stated.
Georgia’s Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani did not comment on the incident, but said the government was not in contact with their Ukrainian counterparts before the deportation.