Georgia’s Foreign Ministry criticized Ukraine on Tuesday for urging the Georgian ambassador to return to Tbilisi for consultations over the poor health of imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is also a Ukrainian citizen.
The Foreign Ministry called Ukraine’s action “an extreme form of escalation.”
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry had summoned Georgian Ambassador George Zakarashvili to express its protest over the apparent significant deterioration in the health of Saakashvili, who was convicted of abuse of power while he was president in 2004-2013.
“The decision of the Ukrainian authorities causes serious damage to the strategic relations between the two countries and represents a direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state,” Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said in its statement.
Saakashvili appeared severely emaciated Monday during a videolink testimony to a court considering a new abuse-of-power case against him.
Saakashvili and his supporters claim that he has been poisoned while imprisoned and that he now weighs about 60 kilograms (132 pounds), half of what he weighed when he was arrested in October 2021.
Speaking from a private clinic where he is being held, he told the court that despite his poor health, he is “spiritually fit and determined to serve the country,” according to local news site Agenda.
Saakashvili, who became Georgia’s president after leading the Rose Revolution protests that drove the previous president out of office, left for Ukraine after the end of his second term. He was later convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison.
He was arrested in October 2021 after returning to Georgia to try to bolster opposition forces before nationwide municipal elections. He is now on trial on charges connected to the violent dispersal of an opposition rally in 2007.
Saakashvili holds Ukrainian citizenship and was governor of that nation’s Odesa region in 2015-16. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday called on Georgia to send Saakashvili to Ukraine for medical treatment.
Source: AP News