Parliament urges Georgia to pardon and release ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili

Parliament urges Georgia to pardon and release ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili

MEPs say the way former President Mikheil Saakashvili is being treated is a litmus test of the Georgian government’s commitment to European values.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, Parliament expresses its grave concerns about the deteriorating health of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been detained in his home country since October 2021. While noting reports of his dramatic weight loss and suggestions that he might have suffered from heavy metal poisoning while in detention, MEPs call on the Georgian authorities to release Mr Saakashvili and allow him to receive proper medical treatment abroad. They urge current President Salome Zourabichvili to use her constitutional right to pardon him. This would also reduce the political polarisation in the country.

A litmus test of Georgia’s respect for European values

The country’s progress with European reforms must be put back on the centre stage of politics, MEPs stress. They also consider that the way prisoners are treated in the country, such as the ex-President, is a litmus test for the Georgian government’s commitment to European values and its declared European aspirations, including EU candidate status, which has so far not been granted to Georgia.

MEPs remind the Georgian authorities that they have a responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of Mr Saakashvili, to provide him with adequate medical treatment and
to respect his fundamental rights and personal dignity, in line with the country’s constitution and international commitment.

Moreover, the resolution underlines the fundamental role that oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili has played in Mr Saakashvili’s ongoing detention “as part of a personal vendetta”. Therefore, Parliament reiterates its call on the Council and democratic partners to consider imposing sanctions on Mr Ivanishvili for his role in “the deterioration of the political process in Georgia”.

The text was adopted with 577 votes in favour, 33 against with 26 abstentions.

Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested by Georgian police when returning to the country in 2021. He was originally sentenced in absentia by a national court to six years in prison in 2018 for, among other things, abuse of power when he was President. His supporters claim the charges are politically motivated and pushed by the Georgian Dream party currently leading the government in Georgia.


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