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Despite Summons, Saakashvili Refuses To Be Questioned


Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili in a Kyiv courtroom earlier this month.
Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili in a Kyiv courtroom earlier this month.

KYIV -- Mikheil Saakashvili, the leader of Ukraine's Movement of New Forces party and former president of Georgia, has reportedly refused to appear for questioning at the Main Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), despite being summoned for an appearance there on December 26.

Saakashvili's lawyer, Pavlo Bohomazov, initially said Saakashvili was planning to appear for questioning.

But shortly after the scheduled meeting at 11 a.m. local time, another Saakashvili lawyer, Ruslan Chornolutsky, told journalists that the former governor of Ukraine's Odesa region would "not enter the investigator's office for investigative procedures today."

Chornolutsky said Saakashvili received a summons to be questioned and to submit samples of his voice for analysis on December 26.

He said that those were two different investigative procedures, which cannot be conducted simultaneously.

"We have already asked for these two investigative procedures to be separated," Chornolutsky said. "We have submitted such a motion."

On the eve of the scheduled meeting, Saakashvili expressed concerns that Ukrainian authorities were trying to deny him temporary protection status and "create conditions" for his "expulsion from the country."

That hearing was scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. local time.

Saakashvili said on December 25 that he would attend the court hearing and "invite everyone who is not indifferent to justice in Ukraine."

He maintains that he is legally a permanent Ukrainian resident and that Ukrainian authorities have "no legitimate instruments to extradite" him to Georgia -- where he is wanted on charges of abusing the office of the presidency.

Ukrainian authorities have accused the former Georgian president and ex-Odesa governor of abetting an alleged "criminal group" led by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster in February 2014.

They have also suggested that protests led by Saakashvili are part of a Russian plot against Ukraine.

Saakashvili denies all the charges.

On December 18, Saakashvili appeared at the Prosecutor-General's Office in Kyiv but refused to answer questions from investigators there.

He told reporters on December 18 that he would give testimony only when the case is handed over to the Ukrainian Security Service, "as required by law," the Interfax news agency reported.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013.

He lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship in order to take the post of Odesa governor at the request of President Petro Poroshenko.

But Saakashvili resigned the Odesa post in November 2016, complaining of rampant corruption, and has since become an ardent opponent of Poroshenko.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian and Georgian services and Interfax
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