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26 Aug, 2023 00:14

Ex-Georgian leader fully responsible for 2008 war – Medvedev

Reckless decisions have made Mikhail Saakashvili a pariah in his own country, the former Russian president has said
Ex-Georgian leader fully responsible for 2008 war – Medvedev

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has paid the price for instigating the 2008 conflict with Russia, ending up as a pariah in his own country, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with RT and TASS news agency on Friday. 

The five-day war erupted on the night of August 8, 2008, when the US-backed Saakashvili sent troops into Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia, shelling the base of Russian peacekeepers in the process. Moscow recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region, on August 26, shortly after defeating the Georgian Army.

Medvedev was president at the time, and ordered the Russian forces to intervene when the Georgian Army attacked Russian peacekeepers, who had been stationed in South Ossetia since the 1990s. He said that Saakashvili bears full responsibility for the bloodshed of 15 years ago. 

“On Georgia’s part, it was [Saakashvili], who took the decision to start the aggression,” said Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council. Saakashvili surrendered to his own “inflated self-esteem that eventually turned him into a political corpse,” Medvedev added, describing the former Georgian leader as “a psychopath.” 

Asked if Saakashvili should face a tribunal over his decision to start the 2008 war, Medvedev replied that “God and history have already condemned him in the harshest way possible.” Saakashvili “has turned into a pariah in his own country,” he added.

Saakashvili was voted out of office in 2012 and fled to the US. After a brief stint as a politician in Ukraine in 2015-16, he returned to Georgia. He is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for abuse of power and was slapped with additional charges last year, including for violently dispersing a 2007 anti-government protest in Tbilisi.

The politician insists that the prosecution is politically motivated. His defenders claim that Saakashvili, who has lost a significant amount of weight in custody, is not receiving adequate medical care.