Saakashvili arrested in Georgia | ABC News

Saakashvili returned to his home country the day before the local elections in Georgia. In a video on Facebook, Saakashvili said he was in Batumi on the shores of the Black Sea, and he urged people to rebel against the current government.

– I have risked my life and my freedom by returning. I urge everyone to turn up at the election and vote for the United National Movement (UNM), the ex-president said in the video.

That same evening, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced that Saakashvili had been arrested.

Convicted of abuse of power

He has been wanted since he was sentenced in 2018 to six years in prison for abuse of power while he was president between 2004 and 2013. The former president himself rejects the accusations that he calls politically motivated.

In recent years, Saakashvili has lived in Ukraine, where he was appointed governor of Odessa Oblast by President Petro Poroshenko.

Saakashvili became president after Eduard Sjevardnadse was overthrown in the so-called Rose Revolution in 2004. During his presidency, the country experienced strong economic growth of up to 10 percent a year, while Saakashvili waged a successful fight against corruption in the notoriously corrupt country.

Authoritarian leadership style

But he was eventually accused of an increasingly authoritarian leadership style. The war the strongly pro-Western Saakshvili unleashed against Russia in 2004 ended with the loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which had already been occupied by Russia, once and for all.

His party lost the election in 2012, and the following year, when he could not run for president again, he left the country for Ukraine, where he was a strong supporter of the Majdan revolution.

When he became governor of Odessa and obtained Ukrainian citizenship, he lost his Georgian citizenship. But later he clashed with Poroshenko, whom he accused of corruption, and lost Ukrainian citizenship, leaving him stateless. But in 2019, he got it back from the new president Volodymyr Zelenskyj.

It is expected that the arrest of Saakashvili will lead to unrest and riots among his many staunch supporters ahead of the election on Saturday. The election is seen as a test of the increasingly unpopular ruling Georgian Dream party.

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