Former President of Georgian Mikheil Saakashvili, currently the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council, has stated in a Facebook video address that the country 'must be saved' from the current Georgian Dream leadership and called on the military servicemen 'to fulfill civic responsibility' and ‘actively participate’ in the October 2 municipal elections in Georgia.
Ex-president Saakashvili urges military to participate in elections ‘to save the country’
By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, September 14
Saakashvili stressed that he, together with the previous government, created the powerful armed forces from the ‘factually destroyed, decrepit Georgian army’, while, according to him, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party Bidzina Ivanishvili has done his utmost over the past years to weaken the country’s armed forces. Saakashvili stressed that the equipment has been drastically weakened and the exercises have been reduced as well. He also noted that the transfer of apartments to the military was carried out on the principle of nepotism.
According to him, the October 2 municipal elections are ‘also a referendum’ and ‘carry crucial importance’ in deciding the country’s future. Ex-president also stressed that he counts on the patriotism and devotion of Georgian soldiers.
Saakashvili’s address comes after his recent promise that he would return to Georgia for the upcoming election. However, ruling party officials do not believe that Saakashvili will do so as he has repeatedly made such promises in recent years without any real action. According to Georgian Dream Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, the ex-president will be arrested immediately upon his arrival. Saakashvili faces several criminal charges, including the violent dispersal of anti-government mass protests on November 7, 2007, appropriation or embezzlement of budget money in large quantities, raiding of TV channel Imedi by riot police, and other crimes.
According to the Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze, Mikheil Saakashvili's recent statement is aimed at discrediting and politicizing the army. He turned down the nepotism-related allegation and reminded Saakashvili of his commitment to the military during his rule in 2007, which, as Burchuladze stated, was fulfilled during the rule of the current government. Burchuladze stressed the progress of recent years in terms of armament, equipment, and social conditions in the Georgian Defense Forces. According to the Defense Minister, the professionalism of the Georgian military and the high level of training is confirmed by the assessments of international partners.