Former president Mikheil Saakashvili said that bringing criminal charges against him is politically motivated, which was done by ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, whom he referred to as “Russian oligarch”, upon instructions from Moscow.
In a post on his Facebook page, Saakashvili said that although Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ivanishvili are celebrating filing criminal charges against ex-president of Georgia, this joy “will not last long” as Georgia will “soon get rid” of Ivanishvili.
Prosecutor’s office said that charges of exceeding official authorities against Saakashvili stem from breaking up of the November 7, 2007 anti-government protests, as well as raid on and “seizure” of Imedi TV station and other assets owned at the time by Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died in February, 2008.
“After failure to find billions misappropriated by me, because I have never misappropriated even a tetri – on the contrary, we increased Georgia’s budget eleven-fold; after failure to prove any specific crime, because I have not committed any – on the contrary, we almost brought crime rate to zero, they [authorities] have brought purely political charges against me,” Saakashvili said in a post on his Facebook page on July 28.
“One Russian oligarch [refereeing to ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili] is charging me with thwarting unrests and coup attempts by another Russian oligarch [referring to late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili] and it happens just ahead of [six-year] anniversary of the 2008 war [with Russia],” Saakashvili says.
“After Russia failed to capture Tbilisi and overthrow my government through war, Putin and Medvedev were publicly soothing themselves by [hoping] that time would come and Georgia would itself put Saakashvili on trial. Although Russia was frequently masterminding unrests [in Georgia], including with the help of politicians, we have not jailed even a single politician, because for me national accord was a supreme value and I stepped down in 2007 just to uphold this value, and in 2012 [after defeat in parliamentary elections] I transferred power quite peacefully to those people, whose response was completely opposite of that,” Saakashvili said.
“Today Russia is celebrating; execution of this instruction by Ivanishvili will perhaps be appropriately appreciated [by Moscow]; but I want to say that joy of Putin and Gazprom’s largest individual shareholder, Ivanishvili, will not last long, because global developments are weakening Putin’s tentacles and we will also get rid of this oligarch [referring to Ivanishvili] soon; Georgia will definitely fully get back on its feet quite soon and will be victorious once and for all,” Saakashvili said.
Other leaders of the opposition UNM party, chaired by Saakashvili, condemned filing criminal charges against the ex-president as part of the authorities’ “new wave of political persecutions”, aimed at “destruction” of country’s major opposition force.
UNM’s Giga Bokeria said the move represents “an open declaration by Ivanishvili and his team of political slaves and his puppet prosecutor’s office that as long as they remain in power, the only thing they will be preoccupied is persecution of Saakashvili and the National Movement.”
“It happens because they [the Georgian Dream ruling coalition] they are not capable of doing anything else, because they are failing in all the other directions, they are failing to deliver with any of their election promises, crime and unemployment is on the rise; it happens because the recent elections showed that they [GD] failed to destroy the United National Movement, and it happens apparently because the prosecution of Saakashvili is part of mending ties with Putin,” Bokeria said.
“I want to tell Ivanishvili and his team of slaves, that they will fail to maintain authoritarian regime and the Georgian society will definitely change this government through constitutional means,” he added.
UNM parliamentary minority leader, Davit Bakradze, called on supporters to be “firm”. “Our struggle continues and I am sure this struggle will be accomplished with success in next [parliamentary] elections [in 2016],” MP Bakradze said.