Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili who had been detained earlier by law enforcement after returning to his homeland has addressed citizens in an open letter urging them to participate in the election to local governing bodies.
“I ask you all very much to come to the polls tomorrow so that not a single vote is lost, and after that we will all stand together to defend the results of the referendum,” the letter published by Georgia’s opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV channel said on Saturday. The ex-president added that his freedom and the freedom of Georgia depend on the activism of people in the coming days. “Please, do not falter and have faith until the end that our victory is in our hands,” Saakashvili wrote.
On Saturday, Georgia is holding the election to local governing bodies. The country’s residents will vote for municipal and regional representatives as well as for mayors in 64 municipalities. The opposition is hoping to win thereby launching a procedure to release Saakashvili.
On Friday, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced that Saakashvili had been detained. The former president was taken to a detention facility in Georgia’s Rustavi. Earlier, Saakashvili announced that he returned to his homeland in time for the election to local government bodies on October 2.
Saakashvili served as President of Georgia from January 2004 to November 2013. In 2013, he left the country a few days before the expiration of his presidential term. Following that, four criminal cases were opened against him with verdicts returned on two of them. In January 2018, the Tbilisi City Court sentenced Saakashvili in absentia to three years behind bars for the 2006 murder of Sandro Girgvliani, an employee of the Georgian United Bank. In June 2018, the court sentenced him to six years in prison for the 2005 assault of lawmaker Valery Gelashvili.
Recently, Saakashvili who has a Ukrainian citizenship, has been residing in Ukraine. During the preparation for the October 2 municipal election he repeatedly stated his intention to come to Georgia despite a likely arrest. On October 1, he published a video recording claiming that he was in Georgia’s Batumi at the time.