The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, said that Mikheil Saakashvili is not Alexei Navalny, and holding fair elections does not depend on where the former president will be.

During the discussion organized by the Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Zurabichvili commented on holding free, fair, and competitive elections in October, which is one of the 9 recommendations set by the European Union for Georgia. Zurabishvili was asked whether she is worried that “as long as the leader of the opposition, Mr. Saakashvili, remains in prison, this condition will not be fulfilled.”

“Free and fair elections do not depend on where Saakashvili will be. He is not a political opponent in prison; he is not Navalny, to answer the question directly,” Zurabishvili said.

Mikheil Saakashvili is in prison for legitimate reasons, but this does not mean that the humanitarian perspective should not be taken into account, she said.

“From a reputational point of view, it would be much better for him to be somewhere else. It is up to the government. There are different ways that other countries deal with this issue - there is house arrest, there is extradition. Ukraine has indicated that it is willing to request extradition, although I am not sure if this has been formally done. So these possibilities are there. As for me, I have only one opportunity, which I never comment on outside the country and I hardly comment inside the country, because many other people are waiting for the opportunity to be pardoned, and if I start to explain or justify, it will be very unfair to other people. That's why I don't comment. This is a moral decision that I will make myself and only I will be responsible for. And, of course, this is not something that can be influenced in any way by external or internal pressure,” said Salome Zurabishvili.

Russian oppositionist and main opponent of President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, died in prison on February 16 at the age of 47. He was serving a 19-year sentence in the Polar Wolf colony, located in the Kharp settlement, 60 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. Navalny's team claims that the politician was killed by Putin.

“Putin killed Alexei Navalny in prison. Last year, Navalny sent me a letter of support from prison. Putin often compared me to Navalny, and, of course, we  were equally hated for him. Last year, on Putin's instructions, the pro-Russian oligarch regime poisoned me in prison, but then God saved me. Of course, Ivanishvili didn't play a role in fulfilling Putin's task, and like Navalny, I will fight to the end to defeat Putinism in Georgia,” this is how Mikheil Saakashvili responded to the death of Alexei Navalny.

The third president of Georgia, who was arrested in Tbilisi on October 1, 2021, has been placed in the Medical Center Vivamedi, a contractor of the Special Penitentiary Service, since May 12, 2022, due to his deteriorating health. He has been sentenced to 6 years for the amnesty of those convicted in the case of beating MP Valeri Gelashvili and murder of Sandro Girgvliani. Mikheil Saakashvili is also accused of illegally crossing the border, raiding the Imedi television company, participating in the November 7 protest rally, illegally taking possession of Patarkatsishvili's property, and embezzling 9 024 367 GEL belonging to the special state protection service - the so-called jackets cases. The third president does not admit guilt and says that he is politically persecuted, a prisoner of Putin.

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