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Live updates: Mikheil Saakashvili arrested

1 October 2021

Former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been arrested in Georgia on the eve of crucial local elections. 

[Read more: Saakashvili arrested in Georgia on eve of election]

01 Oct 2021, 23:15

Barring any major developments, we are signing off for the night. Join us again tomorrow when we will be running live updates for the municipal elections.

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01 Oct 2021, 22:32

Zurabishvili on pardoning Saakashvili: ‘No, and never’

In a late-night statement, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has categorically rejected rumours that she intends to pardon Saakashvili. 

‘I will never forget the eyes of Irina Enukidze or of those others that waited for justice to be done and did not see it in their lifetime’, Zurabishvili said. 

Irina Enukide campaigned for years for justice for her murdered son, 28-year-old Sandro Girgvliani, who was killed by State Security Service officers in 2006. 

Five years later, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the investigation into Girgvliani’s killing was compromised by the government of the then-ruling UNM Party.

In January, Tbilisi City Court found that Saakashvili abused his office by pardoning the convicted murderers of Girgvliani in 2008.

In her speech, Zurabishvil criticised Saakashvili for abusing his power during his rule, rejecting his Georgian citizenship, and violating the law by illegally crossing the border to ‘destabilise’ the country. 

01 Oct 2021, 22:19

Ukrainian MP announces relationship with Saakashvili

Yelyzaveta Yasko and Mikheil Saakashvili. Photo via Facebook.

A Ukrainian MP, Yelyzaveta Yasko, has published a video on Facebook with Saakashvili purportedly recorded days before his departure in which they announce they are starting a family together.

The 30-year-old parliamentarian from the ruling Servant of the People party accompanied the video with a text announcing that they are together and that they ‘love and support each other’.

‘Love and the fight for your state is the noblest thing!’, she wrote. ‘And I support his fight. Because only real fighters with such a big heart and love for their state can change the world! Only people like Misha are ready to risk for their homeland’.

‘I fully support him. Because I would do the same for Ukraine’, she added.

In the video, Saakashvili announces their relationship in Georgian.

‘I want to say that Lisa and I decided to tell everyone that we are together. We start a new life, a new family’, Saakashvili said.

‘It just so happened that I have had a very nice life in the past, but it also happened that in these years, we met, despite all my past relationships, for which I am thankful to them, of course, I think about it a lot, but today Liza Yasko and I are together. We have our joint family and we want to wish happiness to everyone, I hope everyone understands us and wishes happiness to us.’ 

In 1993 Saakashvili married Dutch-born Sandra Roelofs, with whom he has two sons. No official announcement of the two separating have been made, although rumours of a split have circulated in the media.

Following Saakashvili’s arrest, Roelofs praised his decision to travel to Georgia, calling it a ‘heroic’ step.

01 Oct 2021, 22:04

Ukraine summons Georgian ambassador

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Georgian Ambassador to Ukraine demanding details over the ‘grounds and circumstances’ surrounding Saakashvili’s arrest, Ukrayinska Pravda reports citing Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko.

Saakashvili is a Ukrainian citizen and currently serves as the Head of the Executive Committee of the National Reforms Council of Ukraine.

01 Oct 2021, 21:59

Saakashvili charged with illegal border crossing

During a briefing, the Spokesperson of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office reminded the public this evening that Mikheil Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia several years ago for organising an assault on a critic in 2005 and for illegally promising a pardon to law enforcement officers implicated in a 2007 police murder case. 

Additionally, according to the spokesperson, Saakashvili still faces charges for storming and shutting down the broadcast of TV Imedi and illegally seizing the assets of its owner Badri Patarkatsishvili in 2007, and for embezzling over ₾9 million during his presidency. 

The Prosecutor’s Office also added illegal border crossing to the long list of charges.

01 Oct 2021, 21:31

Kobakhidze congratulates Gharibashvili

Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze has congratulated Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili for Saakashvili’s arrest. 

‘This is the crowning achievement to the affair that Bidzina Ivanishvili started 10 years ago’, he said.

At a briefing at the party’s offices in Tbilisi, he said that it was symbolic that it came exactly nine years after Bidzina Ivanishvili congratulated Georgian society for the ‘victory of freedom and democracy’. 

He also thanked the Interior Ministry and State Security Service for the ‘successful operation’.

01 Oct 2021, 21:29

Nika Melia: ‘All to the polls, from 8:00 to 20:00!’

In a press conference, United National Movement party leader Nika Melia has called on voters to go to polls tomorrow in an ‘organised and peaceful manner’ to ‘mark any [choice] except for 42’, a ballot number of the ruling Georgian Dream party. 

‘We are going [to the polls] to win, not to defeat anyone’, Melia reiterated. 

In the 2 October vote, Nika Melia plans to prevent incumbent Tbilisi mayor Kakha Kaladze from being reelected.

In a speech delivered three hours before mandatory pre-election silence, Melia praised the UNM founder Mikheil Saakashvili for his ‘self-sacrificing’ decision to arrive in Georgia, insisting that ‘sooner or later’, he would join others celebrating a common victory.

01 Oct 2021, 21:20

Video from prior to arrest posted to Saakashvili’s Facebook page

Saakashvili’s official Facebook page has published another video taken before his arrest in which he calls for people to go and vote in tomorrow’s election. 

‘Don't be afraid of anything. Go to elections tomorrow and vote and on 3 [October] we will all celebrate the victory. I am very firm and strong’, Saakashvili says.

‘This is why I came back to help you. We didn’t have any other way out. I am not afraid of anything and you should not be either.’

01 Oct 2021, 21:17

Public Defender visits Saakashvili in prison

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has arrived at Penitentiary #12 in the city of Rustavi and has stated she intends to speak with Mikheil Saakashvili and interview him ‘from a legal perspective’.

01 Oct 2021, 21:04

Video released of Mikheil Saakashvili in handcuffs

The Interior Ministry has released footage showing a smiling and handcuffed Saakashvili being escorted by police.

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