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Georgia’s ex special squad member may be released from Ukrainian jail tomorrow

Ukraine’s prosecutor general promised quick release for Tsertsvadze

Former member of Georgia’s special operations squad, lieutenant colonel Giorgi Tsertsvadze will be released from Ukrainian jail on Thursday, Givi Targamadze of the “European Georgia” party has told Rustavi-2 TV channel.

Targamadze has posted on Facebook screenshots of his correspondence with Ukraine’s prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko, saying the latter had made a promise Tsertsvadze would be released as soon as a letter had come in from the Georgian Legion, a group of Georgian volunteers fighting alongside official Ukrainian troops against pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine, confirming that Tsertsvadze had indeed participated in the anti-rebel operations.

The press service of Georgia’s prime minister has advised politicians against engaging in public speculation on the issue.

“Georgia does not give its citizens away,” the service said. “This is what our laws proclaim, and the prime minister stands firmly in support of this.”

The government has been accused of lack of action over the Tsertsvadze case. On one occasion, opposition MPs demanded that the ministers of interior, foreign affairs and justice should appear in the parliament to provide explanations.

The authorities have said Tsertsvadze’s personal data are safely locked away and inaccessible to Russian law-enforcers.

“We don’t need them all shouting, telling us what to do,” said Tea Tsulukiani, the justice minister. “On behalf of myself and our law-enforcement bloc, I am asking you to refrain from stirring up agiotage around the issue.”

In the meantime, rallies have been held in Tbilisi and Kiev to protest against the arrest of the Georgian lieutenant colonel. In one of them, protesters who gathered in front of the interior ministry in Tbilisi to demand that “Tsertsvadze must not be extradited to Russia” clashed with the police.

In Kiev, members of the local Georgian diaspora and anti-rebel operation fighters staged a protest near the Georgian embassy building, demanding that the Georgian citizen’s right be protected.

Former member of the Georgian interior ministry’s special operations squad Giorgi Tsertsvadze was arrested in Kiev’s Zhuliany airport several days ago upon Russia’s request. The Russian authorities accuse him, a veteran of the Abkhaz war of the early 1990s and the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, of involvement in a 2003 murder. Interestingly, he was only put on Russia’s international wanted list in 2016. His lawyer and some opposition members claim the Georgian government has divulged Tsertsvadze’s personal data to Russia.


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