Former Georgian president detained after return to country

Absent from country for 8 years due to arrest warrant, Mikheil Saakashvili returns ahead of local elections on Saturday

Davit Kachkachishvili   |

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was detained following his return to the country after eight years, the country’s prime minister announced on Friday.

Irakli Garibashvili said in a press conference that Saakashvili, who had an arrest warrant to his name, was detained by security forces.

Noting that the Interior Ministry had previously received information on Saakashvili’s plans to come to Georgia from Ukraine, Garibashvili said the process was “completely under control,” adding that Saakashvili was transferred to a penitentiary.

Saakashvili, who spent the last eight years abroad due to the warrant, announced on Facebook earlier on Friday that he had returned to the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast.

His return came a day before local elections are to be held in the country and he urged the public to go to the polls and “protect” their votes by gathering in the center of the capital Tbilisi on Sunday.

Saakashvili went to the US in 2013 after his presidential term expired, with then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko granting him Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015. Saakashvili was appointed Governor of Odessa, but resigned from this post in 2016.

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