Zelenskiy vows to engage in returning Saakashvili back to Ukraine

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Pool

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KYIV, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday he will personally engage in returning Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili back to Ukraine from a prison in Georgia as he holds a Ukrainian passport.

Saakashvili was arrested in Georgia on Friday after the opposition politician returned to the country despite facing imprisonment and called for post-election street protests this weekend. read more

"As the president of Ukraine, I am constantly engaged in returning Ukraine citizens (back to the country) with various capabilities that I have," Zelenskiy said.

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"Mister Saakashvili is a Ukrainian citizen, so that applies to him as well," Zelenskiy said.

Ukraine's foreign ministry, its government and embassy in Georgia will all be involved in dealing with Saakashvili's case, Zelenskiy added.

Saakashvili, who had been living in Ukraine and was sentenced in absentia in Georgia in 2018, said he would fly home for Saturday's local elections in order to help "save the country".

Georgia's ruling party has taken a commanding lead over the opposition United National Movement founded by Saakashvili in municipal elections that have taken on national significance amid a protracted political crisis. read more

Georgia's current president, Salome Zourabichvili, said she would not pardon him and accused him of deliberately trying to destabilise the country.

Saakashvili's lawyer denounced his arrest as a "political detention". In a letter published on Saturday by his lawyer, Saakashvili blamed his arrest on false verdicts imposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, his long-time foe.

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Reporting by Ilya Zhegulev, Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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