Georgia’s former First Lady Sandra Roelofs posted a statement on her Facebook page about the arrest of her husband, former President Mikheil Saakashvili, in Kyiv, Ukraine yesterday.
Saakashvili was taken to preliminary detention. According to Saakashvili’s attorney, Ruslan Chernolutski, the former president has declared a hunger strike for an indefinite period.
“The Prosecutors will ask the court to put the detained Saakashvili under house arrest and have him wear an electronic bracelet as a preventative measure," spokeswoman Larisa Sargan said on Facebook. Saakashvili is accused of cooperating with criminal groups and covering their activities.
Roelofs says her husband’s detention is based only on political grounds and that he has been threatened since he moved to the political opposition in Ukraine one year ago.
“It was the Ukrainian government itself that invited him a few years ago to do what he is best at: to fight corruption, and through that, free up resources for economic and institutional reforms that quickly develop a country. He has done that in Georgia and he can do that in Ukraine, with the same or even more success as Ukraine has tremendous potential. And Ukraine’s success would have been Georgia’s success as well,” says Roelofs.
She believes Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and his cabinet members were not ready for the reforms.
"As it turned out, the Ukrainian president and cabinet members were reluctant to conduct the necessary reforms to fight the rampant corruption in the country. Misha was quickly getting too close to their business interests and their multi-billion empires. So he was discouraged and his initiatives were blocked. When he created an oppositional party, the Ukrainian president went as far as to take away the only citizenship Misha had at that moment: the Ukrainian.”
Roelofs called on Saakashvili's supporters to protect the ideals of Georgia’s former president.
"And now we witness an act of ultimate cowardice from the side of the Ukrainian government: arresting a stateless person on quickly fabricated charges in order to silence him. This will not work. Ukrainians, backed by the international community, will show that such behavior against political opponents is illegal and unacceptable," reads the statement released by Roelofs.