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28 Sep, 2021 10:33

Misha go home? After multiple promises, ex-Georgian leader Saakashvili finally buys flight to Tbilisi, despite criminal charges

Misha go home? After multiple promises, ex-Georgian leader Saakashvili finally buys flight to Tbilisi, despite criminal charges

Despite being sentenced to significant time behind bars in absentia, former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili has revealed he has bought a ticket to Tbilisi, after years of promises to return home and face the music.

In a video posted to his Facebook account, Saakashvili announced he had booked a flight to his native city for Friday, on the day the country will hold local elections.

“I have bought a ticket for the evening of October 2 to be in Tbilisi with you and defend your will and take part in saving Georgia,” he said.

This is not the first time that the former president has announced his intention to return. Saakashvili left his homeland in 2013 and has had a number of criminal cases brought against him for abuse of power, some of which have seen him given prison terms in absentia. He has been sentenced to a combined nine years behind bars. He claims the charges are politically motivated.

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Georgian authorities have repeatedly said they would detain him as soon as he crossed the border.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia for nine years between 2004 and 2013, before moving to the US shortly after leaving office, due to fears of prosecution.

Two years later, he moved to Ukraine to become governor of Odessa Oblast, at the invitation of then-president Petro Poroshenko, who also granted him a Ukrainian passport. This led to him losing his Georgian nationality, as the country forbids dual citizenship.

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Just two years later, after he left his post in Odessa, Poroshenko took away his Ukrainian nationality. Saakashvili then returned to the US, living in New York.

In 2020, he was invited back to Ukraine by Poroshenko’s successor, Volodymyr Zelensky, to head the country’s National Reform Committee.

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