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Ukrainian Prosecutor Suggests Saakashvili Will Be Extradited To Georgia

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in a courtroom in Kyiv on December 11
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in a courtroom in Kyiv on December 11

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili will likely be extradited to Georgia, where he is wanted on charges linked to when he was that country’s president.

Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko on December 15 told reporters that "the biggest likelihood is extradition” to Georgia.

“We have an official request from the country, which we do not have the right to refuse," he said.

However, Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted senior Georgian officials as saying the Caucasus country had not issued an extradition request and denying press reports that an official had traveled to Belarus to negotiate with Ukrainian authorities.

Saakashvili faces separate charges in Ukraine, and Lutsenko left open the possibility he could still be tried in the country should the extradition process to Tbilisi be delayed.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004-13. He lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship and took the post of Odesa governor.

Saakashvili resigned his Odesa position in November 2016, complaining of rampant corruption, and has since turned his outspoken rhetoric on former ally President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine.

Ukraine later filed charges against Saakashvili, accusing him of abetting an alleged "criminal group" led by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster in February 2014.

Saakashvili denied the charges, which he says are fabricated to undermine his campaign to unseat Poroshenko. He has also denied the charges in Georgia as being politically motivated.

Saakashvili has been detained multiple times in Ukraine -- most recently on December 8. But he was released from detention on December 11 after a judge refused the prosecutor’s request to put him under house arrest.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and The Financial Times