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Ukraine releases Georgian oficer wanted by Interpol

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, January 30
Georgian Vice-Colonel Giorgi Tsertsvadze, who was detained in Kyiv on January 15 on the basis of an Interpol warrant requested by Russia, was freed from pre-trial detention on January 26.

The Appeals Court of Kyiv postponed the hearing of Tsertsvadze’s case for February 3, and left him in pre-trial detention on Thursday. However, due to the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office, Giorgi Tsertvadze was released several hours later.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko announced Tsertsvade’s release on his official Facebook page.

“As promised, Tsertsvadze is free. Ukraine does not betray its people, including Georgians,” Lutsenko’s post reads.

While leaving the pre-trial detention facility, Tsertsvadze thanked everyone who was demanding his freedom. He said that Russia wants to detain people who have information about Georgia’s security.

“Russia’s task is to arrest people who have any information about Georgia’s security, like strategic facilities, military units, and everything that is a Georgian secret. Another motive is that they want to punish the people who actively participated in wars against Russia," he said.

Tsertsvadze’s lawyer, Ksenia Prokonova, says that the case is still in progress and the officer’s release does not mean Russia will step back.

“We will work with Interpol to complete the procedures of the case and to assure them that they should not extradite Tsertsvadze to Russia,” she said.

The 47-year old Georgian serviceman was put on the internationally wanted list on December 23 2016 on the request of Russia, which claims that Tsertsvadze committed a murder in 2003.

Vice-Colonel Giorgi Tsertsvadze fought for Georgia in Abkhazia and in the August Russia-Georgia war of 2008. He also fought against Russia in Ukraine’s Donbass region.

The United National Movement (UNM) and European Georgia parties claim that the Georgian government did nothing for Tsertsvadze’s release. They say that Russia acquired information on Tsertsvadze either from the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) or the Justice Ministry of Georgia.

“The involvement of the Georgian government in Tsertsvadze’s case is zero and they only paid attention to him after the mass protest of society,” UNM member Nino Kalandaze said.

The majority says they are doing their best to prevent Tsertsvadze’s extradition to Russia.

“Tsretsvadze was released due to the government’s hard work and active involvement of Georgia’s Prosecutor’s office,” majority member Davit Matikashvili said.

Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office responded to the release of Tsertsvadze in a statement, which reads that extradition proceedings against Tserstvadze will be concluded within the next few days, which implies some procedural activities while considering formal circumstances need to be carried out.

“The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia will continue cooperation with the Ukrainian colleagues until extradition proceedings against Giorgi Tserstvadze are over in his favor,” the statement reads.

Tsertsvadze cannot leave Ukraine until his case is resolved.