© Reuters file photo: Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who was detained after returning home, was taken with police officers to a prison in Rustavi, Georgia, in this still photo taken from the video. Georgian Inter
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Georgians voted Saturday in local elections that could escalate political stalemate between the ruling party and the opposition a day after the arrest of former president and opposition politician Mikhail Saakashvili.
Saakashvili, who left Georgia in 2013 and was in prison in absentia in 2018, was arrested https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/georgian-ex-leader-says-he-is-back-home- desleep-prison-threat-authority-denial-2021-10-01 On Friday, he returned to Georgia and called on his supporters to vote for the opposition and protest on the streets after the election.
Georgia authorities warned he would be arrested if he returned. After his arrest, President Salome Zouravichvili said he would not pardon Saxony and accused him of deliberately trying to destabilize the country.
Saakashvili’s lawyer on Friday condemned his arrest as “political detention”. In a letter posted on his lawyer and his Twitter (NYSE 🙂 page on Saturday, Saxaville, 53, reiterated his call for his supporters to vote and said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “fabricated, false verdict” was behind his arrest.
Saakashvili and Putin have a long history of conflict.
The feud escalated in 2008 when Russian peacekeepers engaged in a brief skirmish in an isolated area of Georgia, where Saakashvili was in power. Putin was Russia’s prime minister at the time and supported military action.
The Kremlin said Friday that Saakashvili was out of its control.
Elections in nearly 9. million countries, including a vote for mayor of the capital Tbilisi, have become important in the month-long political crisis that erupted after last year’s parliamentary elections, which prompted the opposition to boycott the chamber.
The main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), which founded Saakashvili, was arrested in February but released in May under pressure from the European Union to reduce the stalemate between the government and the party.
That deal broke down in the summer when the ruling Georgian Dream Party withdrew.
The agreement stated that the Georgian Dream would have to call a snap parliamentary election if it failed to get 43% of the vote in Saturday’s local elections.
A recent poll shows the popular support for the Georgian Dream at 36%, well below that limit.
Although the deal has now been unveiled, political analysts say the vote could provoke protests if the ruling party fails to reach the limits set out in the deal and refuses to call early parliamentary elections.
“If the Georgian Dream doesn’t get what it deserved in the previous parliamentary elections, which was 48.22%, we could have some unrest again, perhaps another wave of political crisis,” said Soso Jazamukashvili, a junior researcher at Emerging Europe.
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