Ex-president urges West to sanction Georgia

Lazy eyes listen


Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has suggested that the West impose broad economic sanctions and embargoes on the country. Not only would this secure his release from prison, but it would also restore the US and its allies as beacons of “democracy, decency, and justice,” as well as deal “another blow” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Saakashvili issued the call in a lengthy piece headlined ‘I am a political prisoner in Georgia, and I am dying,’ which he wrote for Politico on Friday. The piece focused mostly on his alleged conflict with Putin, with the ex-leader asserting that he continues to “defend democracy against Putin and his allies” even from his prison cell.

However, Saakashvili claimed that “democracy” is under attack again in Georgia and elsewhere, accusing the ruling Georgian Dream party of following Putin’s bidding and demonstrating “solidarity with Russia.” He argued that the administration, which has refused to adopt Western anti-Russian sanctions over the ongoing confrontation between Moscow and Kiev, should do more to support Ukraine.

“While there is, of course, legitimate trepidation about being openly hostile to the Kremlin given the danger Georgia faces,” Saakashvili said, “the vast majority of Georgians support the Ukrainian cause.”

The former president, who took power in 2003 following the US-backed Revolution of the Roses and ruled Georgia until late 2013, detailed his purported efforts to bring “democracy” to Georgia, noting that “after only months in power,” he “was praised by leaders in Europe and the US for championing democracy and free markets.”

After leaving the country at the end of his second term, Saakashvili briefly migrated to the United States before returning to Ukraine two years later to become governor of Odessa Oblast under then-President Pyotr Poroshenko.

Saakashvili abruptly returned to Georgia in late 2021, only to be arrested and held in detention ever since, with multiple ongoing criminal proceedings stemming from alleged abuses of power and other violations while in office. Several senior Georgian officials have claimed that the ex-president was sent in on purpose by Kiev to destabilize the country and even organize a coup.

The ex-president further suggested that Putin would have preferred him to die in prison, arguing that his “martyrdom will undoubtedly be considered a victory for Putin – a powerful symbol to all leaders in this region, and possibly the world, who fail to stand up to Russian imperialism.” He claimed that securing his release through pressure on Tbilisi would be a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“However, if the US Congress and the Biden administration can work together with the EU to secure my release through sanctions, economic embargoes, funding suspensions, and visa restrictions, it will not only deal another blow to Putin, but it will also send a strong signal that the US and Europe remain committed to the ideals of democracy, decency, and justice,” Saakashvili concluded.