Proceedings for termination of Georgian citizenship for ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili have launched after receiving an official confirmation from Ukraine that Saakashvili, who is now governor of Odessa region, was granted Ukrainian citizenship, Georgia’s Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said on October 30.
According to Georgian legislation, a Georgian national will lose Georgian citizenship after acquiring citizenship of a foreign country.
Saakashvili was granted Ukrainian citizenship in late May, when Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed him as governor of Odessa.
Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, said that although a presidential decree on granting Saakashvili Ukrainian citizenship was posted on the official website of the Ukrainian president, in July Saakashvili was quoted in media that obtaining Ukrainian passport was delayed.
According to Tsulukiani, these reported remarks by Saakashvili promoted the Georgian side not to hurry with the launch of procedures for termination of citizenship and to verify whether the ex-president was granted or not the Ukrainian citizenship.
For that purpose, she said, the Justice Ministry’s Public Service Development Agency sent a request to the State Migration Service of Ukraine regarding Saakashvili’s citizenship.
“The response [from the Ukrainian side] was delaying and we had to remind them [about our request] for number of times – the last time it was on October 19, when my deputy asked our embassy in Ukraine to seek response on our letter,” Tsulukiani said.
The Georgian Public Service Development Agency received a notification from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on October 23, 2015, confirming that Saakashvili received Ukrainian citizenship.
“Based on this notification from Ukraine and pursuant to the Georgian legislation… we are launching on October 30 proceedings for termination of the Georgian citizenship to Mikheil Saakashvili,” the Georgian Justice Minister said.
“The person in question in Odessa will be notified about the commencement of the proceedings and will be given reasonable timeframe for laying out his position as envisaged by the law,” Tsulukiani said.
“After that the Public Service Development Agency will compile a conclusion on termination of citizenship and submit it for final decision to the President of Georgia [Giorgi Margvelashvili],” she said.
The announcement comes after two wiretapped recordings were leaked onto internet on October 29 in which Saakashvili discusses “defending” Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV through erecting barricades, calls for “going through revolutionary scenario” and speaks about the need for “physical confrontation”.
Officials in Tbilisi said that timing of the announcement on Saakashvili’s citizenship is just a coincidence and a technical process of termination of ex-president’s citizenship was launched only after receiving formal confirmation about his Ukrainian citizenship.
In a video address posted on his Facebook page on October 30 Saakashvili says that termination of his Georgian citizenship “is closing door to Georgian elections” for him.
The video address was about development over Rustavi 2 TV ownership dispute. Saakashvili said that the Rustavi 2 TV is the “last remaining barrier” that stands in Georgian ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s way to implement all of his “dark plans.”
“Defending of Rustavi 2 TV, including physically by people, is a direct path towards saving Georgian democracy,” Saakashvili said, adding that court case about the broadcaster’s ownership dispute is “bluff.”
“We are dealing with blackmail and dirty methods – will we give in to this and accept it?” Saakashvili said.
“I want to warn everyone over one thing – if we fail to stand firmly and united, we will fail to avoid much more excesses and real violence in the future,” Saakashvili said, adding that Georgia should prevent what happened in Ukraine when Viktor Yanukovych was the President, who “fired shots at his own people.”
“We should avoid it in Georgia with our unity including in defense of freedom,” he added.