Saakashvili supporters accuse Georgian authorities of ousting him from political affairs before elections
Leading members of the Georgian opposition party United National Movement view the deprivation of the party leader, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, of Georgian citizenship as a purposeful step made by the authorities to bar him from involvement in political affairs in his home country.
"The incumbent authorities and their manager Bidzina Ivanishvili [a billionaire and former Georgian prime minister] really fear parliamentary elections set for next year and fear that Saakashvili will lead the opposition in these elections, and therefore the decision has been made to deprive him of Georgian citizenship," Akaky Minashvili, a United National Movement leader, told journalists on Friday.
Public opinion polls show that United National Movement has higher approval ratings than the ruling coalition Georgian Dream and that this edge will grow by next fall, he said.
Irakly Sesiashvili, a member of the parliamentary majority and head of the parliamentary committee on defense and national security, reasoned that Saakashvili has chosen Ukrainian citizenship himself, which automatically cost him Georgian citizenship.
"Ex-President Saakashvili has made this choice himself. He preferred governorship in Ukraine to Georgian citizenship. The relevant institutions have acted exactly as the law requires," Sesiashvili said.
Meanwhile, some Ukrainian media on Friday circulated a transcript of what is purported to be a telephone conversation between Goki Gabashvili, another United National Movement leader, and his brother Lado Gabashvili, in which they called Saakashvili crazy. "He [Saakashvili] wants everyone in the party to be his slaves. He is crazy," Goki Gabashvili presumably says in the transcript.
The Georgian opposition politician has not yet made any comments to confirm or deny the recording's authenticity.