Georgian ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili is expected to travel to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi today where he is expected to face arrest—He claimed to have arrived in the Black Sea city of Batumi on Friday.
Saakashvili served as the Republic of Georgia’s third president from 2004 to 2013, after spearheading the pro-Western Rose Revolution in 2003. He left Georgia in 2013 shortly after his defeat by the Georgian Dream (GD) party and was charged with abuse of power while in office, which he claims were politically motivated. He is currently serving as chair of the executive committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council. Saakashvili returns to Georgia as the leader of the United National Movement (UNM), currently seen as the main contender against the ruling GD party.
Saakashvili has a mixed reputation in both Georgia and Ukraine, lauded for his pro-Western beliefs, and scourged by others for allegations of violence against political opponents. Expect his arrival to spark protests from supporters if he is arrested, or from opponents if he walks free. Following GD’s withdrawal from an agreement to hold snap parliamentary elections if it wins less than 43% of the vote in today’s local elections, the political climate is likely to remain tense in Georgia.
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Nastia is a research analyst on the Current Developments team. She focuses on the former USSR region, specializing in security, Russian and Eurasian affairs.