TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Tuesday made his first comments regarding the news that he is asked to testify in ten serious criminal cases in his home country.
Many of his closest associates have been put on trial in the last two years after his party lost power.
“Must I come to Tbilisi and make Putin’s dream come true?” Saakashvili asked.
He claims the request sent out by his country’s top prosecutor, asking him to help solve ten of the most controversial criminal cases, including the death of his own prime minister, is a ploy masterminded by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Most Georgians have never believed the official version of how Zurab Zhvania died in 2005: carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty gas heater.
Last week, an unknown person posted photos in a Youtube video showing the autopsy pictures of Zhvania, which made it clear that he had received injuries before he died – bruises more like after a beating.
Thursday and Friday last week, the pathologist and head of shift of Zhvania’s bodyguards were detained as a result, and are still being kept in pre-trial detention.
Speaking to Rustavi 2, Saakashvili reiterated that he believes that his summoning is a direct order from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to ‘destroy’ him.
But despite the potential risk, he vowed to return to Georgia much sooner than former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and ‘his followers’ may think.
The ex-president said the process of summoning him for questioning is political and not legal, and that no-one doubts that.
Debate is running high in Tbilisi – a phone-in on Kavkasia TV, more than 80 percent of callers voted in support of Saakashvili coming home to explain himself.
Anti-Saakashvili activists were demonstrating outside the National Movement party office, throwing red paint at a poster of Vano Merabishvili, the former interior minister who now is imprisoned awaiting trial.
The specter of also Saakashvili being put on trial prompted warnings from European leaders last week, but Monday and Tuesday there were several who emphasized that “no-one is above the law”.
“They are concerned that it may be political revenge from the new government. Besides, why is the ex-president summoned about several cases together? It may be related to the ex-president’s foreign activity and that he openly supports Ukraine,” Nino Lomjaria from ISFED said.
Eka Gigauri, from Transparency International Georgia, said that members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, who are visiting Tbilisi, had many questions about the summoning of Saakashvili, especially the fact that this happens right before the local election, as it will have a negative influence for National Movement activists.