Georgia's ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili has repeated his earlier defiance of Tbilisi's summons for questioning on March 27 about a range of controversial issues, including the death of the late Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania. He claims, albeit without definitive evidence, that the measure is part of a larger confrontation between Russia and the West.
Speaking late on March 25 with the ever-friendly Georgian TV station Rustavi2 in Kyiv, where he is advising the acting Ukrainian government, Saakashvili again dismissed the subpoena as allegedly another attempt by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Georgian prime minister and founder of the country's ruling Georgian Dream coalition, to "shut me up."
Georgian government members have expressed frustration about Saakashvili's frequent appearances on international news channels to denounce Russia's invasion of Crimea. To many, this criticism appeared to stem more from the government's ongoing feud with Misha than from any sympathy for Russia. But Saakashvili, long wary of Ivanishvili's business ties to Russia, apparently doesn't see it that way.
"Should I return to Georgia and fulfill Putin's dream?" he asked rhetorically. "I will continue to do that which I'm doing as a free person."
Specific grounds for any questioning were not furnished, he added.
In his Rustavi2 talk, Saakashvili argued that Ivanishvili, often seen as the country's grey cardinal, had ordered the photos of Zhvania to be released to prepare the public for Saakashvili's interrogation and possible arrest. He offered no substantiation for this claim.
He went on to claim that his political foes -- i.e., the Georgian Dream -- had put the idea into the head of Zhvania’s widow, Nino Kadagidze, that her husband had been murdered.
In response, at a press conference today, Kadagidze listed several suspicious circumstances around her husband’s death. Both Saakashvili and Zhvania’s family have called for the late prime minister's body to be exhumed to put an end to the speculations.
Government prosecutors have not bothered to explain how the photos of the dead Zhvania moved from a vault in the general prosecutor's office to the Internet. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili commented with a sniff on March 25 that Saakashvili and his trip to the prosecutor's office interest no one.
Zhvania’s family has called for stopping all speculation and letting the investigation go its course. Unfortunately, for those who truly want answers in this case, the dead prime minister is too good of a political weapon to let go.