The Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia has opened a criminal case against the former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the country Georgy Lordkipanidze. He is accused of helping ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili when crossing the state border illegally.
“The investigation established that Giorgi Lordkipanidze knew about the intention to illegally cross the state border of Georgia by Mikhail Saakashvili and developed a specific plan,” – it says in the message of the prosecutor’s office. Lordkipanidze, who is currently on the territory of Ukraine, faces a sentence of five years in prison.
According to the investigation, in April 2021, Lordkipanidze met with the driver of the trailer, Elguja Tsomaya, and persuaded him to ferry Saakashvili from Ukraine to Georgia in his personal truck. In mid-September, Lordkipanidze told Tsomaya to travel by truck to Ukraine. On September 20, the driver loaded the transport on the territory of Ukraine with dairy products and waited for further instructions.
On September 26, Mikhail Saakashvili, who was put on the wanted list by the Georgian authorities, was taken to the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk. There, the opposition leader was transplanted from the trailer into a hiding place in the truck’s cabin. The car was loaded onto the vessel Vilnius, which was sent to the port of Poti, the prosecutor’s office noted.
From Poti Saakashvili was transported to Tbilisi, where he settled in Tsomai’s apartment. There, the opposition leader was detained on October 1 by law enforcement officers.
The prosecutor’s office cites a recording of a telephone conversation between Lordkipanidze and Tsomai, in which they discussed the delivery of Saakashvili to Georgia.
Earlier, a criminal case was initiated against Lordkipanidze under the article on abuse of power during the violent dispersal of a rally in Tbilisi on May 26, 2011.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian border service has completed the verification of information about the possible illegal crossing of the Ukrainian border by Saakashvili. After that, a number of officials from the leadership of the border unit, the border detachment and the Southern Regional Directorate of the Border Service were brought to disciplinary responsibility. At the time of the check, they were also suspended from their duties, writes “Ukrainska Pravda” with reference to the representative of the Border Service Andriy Demchenko.
According to him, a criminal case was opened based on the materials of the check. However, the Border Service did not specify whether the fact of illegal border crossing by Saakashvili was established.
Georgy Lordkipanidze held leading positions not only in the law enforcement agencies of Georgia, but also in Ukraine. On June 9, 2015, he was appointed head of the Main Directorate of the National Police in the Odessa region. The then President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko granted the former Georgian official Ukrainian citizenship.
Lordkipanidze resigned on November 7, 2016, when Mikhail Saakashvili resigned from his post as governor of the Odessa region.
In Georgia, five criminal cases were previously opened against Saakashvili, including abuse of authority and embezzlement. In two of them, he was previously found guilty in absentia. The ex-president called the sentences against himself fabricated, in particular, by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Georgian prosecutor’s office noted that Saakashvili faces at least six years in prison.
Mikhail Saakashvili secretly returned to Georgia shortly before the municipal elections. This is his first visit to the country in eight years. After being detained on October 1, Saakashvili was arrested in Tbilisi and sent to a prison in Rustavi.
Immediately after the arrest, Saakashvili went on a hunger strike, which continued 50 days. During this time, his condition worsened significantly, and doctors asked to transfer the opposition leader to a civil multidisciplinary clinic. Saakashvili himself said that he could be killed in a prison hospital.