14 Dec 2017 16:54

Saakashvili says doesn't fear bullets or jail

TBILISI. Dec 14 (Interfax) - Former Georgian President and leader of the Ukrainian Movement of New Forces opposition party Mikheil Saakashvili has said that after being held for some time at a pretrial detention facility in Kyiv, he has realized he did not fear imprisonment.

"I've also tested myself in jail. Turns out I don't fear this at all, even in its worst form. The first day was the hardest, when they put me there and said I would have to be there for several years and then for another several years in Georgia. However, I was in good shape the next day, and so I've tested myself in all situations and fear neither bullets nor jail," Saakashvili said in an interview with Georgian radio.

Saakashvili said he is confident that current opposition forces will be victorious in Ukraine. "When we win in Ukraine, we will go to Georgia. If I am deprived of the opportunity to establish order in Ukraine and am let go to Georgia before this, we will establish order in Georgia and then will come to Ukraine. I can assure you there is enough of me for both countries. I have enough strength, energy, and stamina," Saakashvili said.

The Ukrainian authorities have charged Saakashvili with complicity with members of criminal organizations and covering up of their criminal activities. If found guilty, Saakashvili might be imprisoned for five to ten years.

Saakashvili was detained in Kyiv on December 5, but his supporters freed him from a police vehicle, after which he was declared wanted.

Saakashvili was detained once again on the evening of December 8. He was brought to the Ukrainian Security Service's detention facility in Kyiv, where he declared a hunger strike.

Kyiv's Pechersky District Court ruled on December 11 to turn down the prosecution's request that Saakashvili be placed under round-the-clock house arrest during the investigation and freed him.

The same evening, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko said the prosecution would appeal the Pechersky Court's ruling.

Saakashvili also said on Wednesday he did not trust the current justice system in Georgia and refused to attend four hearings of criminal cases opened against him. Despite this statement, the Tbilisi City Court planned on Thursday to continue the proceedings in which Saakashvili is charged in absentia with abuse of office during his presidency.

A counsel for the prosecution said the first sentence might be handed down on Saakashvili before the end of the year, and this could serve as valid grounds to demand his extradition from Ukraine.