Mikhail Saakashvili has called for a forced buyout of apartments from “dangerous” foreigners who cannot be “mentally corrected”
Russians living in Georgia are a threat to the nation and should be forced to sell any real estate they own there, former President Mikhail Saakashvili has claimed.
The policy should be introduced once the current Georgian government is replaced, Saakashvili argued during a court hearing last week. The former leader is currently standing trial for alleged abuse of power during his presidency.
“It is impossible to correct mentally most of the Russians. These people are a source of increased risk for Georgia,” Saakashvili declared. He was speaking remotely from a clinic in Tbilisi where he has been placed due to deteriorating health.
“Russians should be given a year to sell their apartments. Those apartments with the government’s help should be bought by Georgians living abroad,” Saakashvili was quoted as saying. “The Russians have no long-term future in Georgia.”
The issue of real estate and rental prices has become a contentious one in Georgia after an influx of Russian nationals amid the Ukraine conflict. The surge in demand from new arrivals has pushed the market up, causing disgruntlement among some locals.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized Saakashvili’s remarks in a social media post on Sunday, writing: “One wish for just one clarification: which other nations and nationalities can be subjected to ‘mental correction’ in Saakashvili’s viewpoint?”
The former Georgian president has used his court appearances to make various political statements. The rest of his speech, which reportedly lasted over 30 minutes, included criticisms of the current government and an encouragement of opposition forces to unite against it.
Saakashvili was charged in absentia with a number of crimes after fleeing his homeland in 2014 and turning to a political career in Ukraine. He returned to Georgia in 2021 ahead of a municipal election, despite facing arrest and jail time under a previous criminal conviction. Charges of illegal crossing of the border were added to the array of allegations against him.
The current case against Saakashvili revolves around the events of November 2007, when his government faced mass street protests. The prosecution alleges that the response to the demonstrations was disproportionate and involved illegal methods, including by targeting opposition members and journalists.
The Imedia news company was raided by government troops amid the crackdown. Weeks later, its ownership was changed in a move that prosecutors claim was coerced by the then-government
October 30, 2023 at 08:22PM