UPDATE - Ukraine protests Georgia over ex-president Saakashvili's health conditions in jail

UPDATE - Ukraine protests Georgia over ex-president Saakashvili's health conditions in jail

Kyiv asks Georgian ambassador to return home and speak with his government about deteriorating health of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili - now Ukrainian citizen


By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) – Kyiv on Tuesday protested to Tbilisi over the deteriorating health conditions of jailed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now a Ukrainian citizen, saying this attitude is "absolutely unacceptable."

Ukraine summoned Georgian Ambassador to Kyiv George Zakarashvili to convey to him President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's protest over the situation surrounding the detention and the deteriorating health of Saakashvili, who was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2013, asking the envoy to return to his country’s capital Tbilisi to speak with his government.

Saakashvili’s Georgian citizenship was revoked in 2015 after he became a citizen of Ukraine, where he also served as governor of southwestern Odesa Oblast.

His medical team says his health has deteriorated significantly since he was imprisoned in Oct. 2021 following his arrest during his secret return to Georgia after an eight-year exile. He went on hunger strike several times to protest his imprisonment.

A Georgian court sentenced Saakashvili to six years in prison for two separate cases of abuse of power as the head of state.

The former Georgian president is still on trial in three separate cases and has attended hearings via videoconference due to his failing health.

“On July 4, the Ambassador of Georgia to Ukraine, George Zakarashvili, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to fulfill the instructions of the President of Ukraine, who expressed a strong protest in connection with the significant deterioration of the condition of Mikheil Saakashvili, a citizen of Ukraine imprisoned in Georgia,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ambassador Zakarashvili has been asked to return to the Georgian capital for consultations with his government in order to find a solution to resolve the issue, the statement said.

The ambassador was informed of Kyiv's position on the matter, which called Georgia's treatment of Saakashvili "absolutely unacceptable," and urged the authorities in Tbilisi to "stop abusing" him.

“The Ukrainian side emphasized its readiness to urgently discuss the issue of transporting Mikheil Saakashvili to Ukraine for treatment and care,” the statement concluded.

Later, the Georgian Foreign Ministry released a statement in which it expressed "deep concern" over Ukraine's call to Zakarashvili and said that Kyiv's move represented "an extreme form of escalation of diplomatic relations."

The ministry expressed hope that Ukraine will reconsider its decision, adding that it will refrain from taking any additional reactions at this stage towards Kyiv, which may aggravate the situation due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

On Monday, Zelenskyy reiterated his call on Georgian authorities to hand over Saakashvili to Ukraine for "the necessary treatment and care," and urged Kyiv's partners to address this situation.

"No government in Europe has the right to execute people, life is a basic European value," Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

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