Georgia criticizes Ukraine’s order for envoy to leave as ‘insulting’

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Georgia’s ruling party on Tuesday criticized as “insulting” Ukraine’s decision to tell Tbilisi’s ambassador to leave Kyiv over the fate of ailing, jailed ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Saakashvili, Georgia’s president in 2004-2013 and now a Ukrainian national, looked a ghost of his former self when he appeared on television for the first time in months on Monday.

The 55-year-old-- who was detained on his return to Georgia from exile in Ukraine in 2021 - has lost more than half his weight.

He risks dying from a number of conditions he has developed in custody, doctors said.

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Aired by Georgian TV stations, the shocking images of an emaciated Saakashvili joining a court hearing via video link prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to summon the Georgian ambassador, asking him to go to Tbilisi to help “save” Saakashvili.

He said the envoy would be asked to “leave Ukraine within 48 hours to hold consultations with his capital” on Saakashvili’s treatment, which has sparked international concerns.

On Tuesday, Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream, told journalists that Ukraine’s move was “insulting.”

“But we wish to remain friends with Ukraine, even unilaterally, because the country is at war.”

Zelenskyy wants Saakashvili, whom he made a Ukrainian citizen in 2019, to be transferred to a clinic in Ukraine or the West.

Saakashvili was jailed after returning from exile on abuse of power charges that rights groups denounce as politically motivated.
He is being kept in a civilian hospital.

Georgian authorities insist he is receiving adequate medical care.

Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement founded by Saakashvili, announced a protest rally for Tuesday evening to demand Saakashvili’s liberation.

The European Union and the United States have urged Georgia to ensure that Saakashvili is provided medical treatment and that his rights are protected.

The Council of Europe rights watchdog has branded Saakashvili a “political prisoner” and Amnesty International has called his treatment “apparent political revenge.”

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