Saakashvili named on ‘wanted list’ in Georgia

Saakashvili’s on air with Rustavi-2 television on August 14, 2014. Screenshot, 15 Aug 2014 - 12:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian authorities have named former president Mikheil Saakashvili on a national wanted list and said the ex-leader would be arrested if he returns to his home country.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office said an official mandate to launch a wanted operation against Saakashvili had been sent to the Interior Ministry.

The ex-president was sentenced in absentia to pre-trial detention by Tbilisi City Court on August 2 after being charged in relation to numerous criminal cases, including exceeding official powers.

Saakashvili is currently in the United States and has refused to return to Georgia to face charges which relate to violent dispersal of an anti-governmental mass protest on November 7, 2007, and a raid and unlawful seizure of Imedi TV.

Yesterday the Chief Prosecutor’s Office said an official mandate to launch a wanted operation against Saakashvili had been sent to the Interior Ministry.

The Office said the ex-president will be detained by police if he attempted to cross a Georgian border.

Shortly after the Prosecutor’s Office announced a wanted operation had been launched under Saakashvili’s name, the ex-leader went on air with Rustavi 2 TV from New York City said the wanted notice, which was only relevant in Georgia, meant the Georgian authority did not want him to return to his home country

"[Former prime minister of Georgia Bidzina] Ivanishvili filed criminal charges against me not to allow me to return to Georgia. [He] is well aware that he could not announce an international wanted operation on me,” Saakashvili said.

"The European Union and Americans have explained to him that it was not possible. They have announced a wanted operation within the country and not international.”

He added it was essential he did not return to Georgia.

"I would like to say to Ivanishvili that this [nonsense] will be judged in history. But the sound majority of our country will decide and find its place for everything. Ultimately, our country will be released from this nonsense and everything will be settled,” Saakashvili noted.

The ex-president also reacted to the new charges brought against him – embezzlement of 8, 837,000 GEL state funds as a secret source of income for private spending over a five year period between September 2009 and February 2013.

He believed any entertainment allowance which included travel costs, food and beverage costs and medical treatment costs were "confidential” in every country.

Saakashvili refused the alleged sum spent on cosmetic procedures, adding: "It is a completely false story.”

"You should question [Ivanishvili] about this. A journalist from BBC asked me while laughing that Ivanishvili said I had been injecting botox. I told him to look at my face then Ivanishvili’s and then decided who has had more cosmetic procedures,” Saakashvili said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili commented on Saakashvili’s television appearance and said the ex-president was "excited” and spoke like "a typical dictator”.

"I don’t know how to make a serious comment about his statement. If any leader of the country believes these kinds of expenses are normal, then we have no right to talk about democracy. How can the costs of a massage service and some other million costs considered usual,” he questioned.

Garibashvili believed it was a shame Georgia had a "disreputable president” who had spent millions of public money, taken from the pockets of the people so he could enjoy a luxurious life.