Release of Ukrainian sailors – accompanying result of the Batumi Summit


On July 19, within the framework of the international conference “Georgia’s European Way”, President Salome Zurabishvili managed to invite the leaders of the Eastern Partnership associate countries, the Presidents of Moldova and Ukraine Maia Sandu and Volodymyr Zelensky to Georgia for the first time.

A few hours before the arrival of the Presidents of Moldova and Ukraine in Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili pardoned the prisoners of the “theft case from Ukraine”: two Ukrainian sailors and one Georgian citizen – a former member of the bodyguard of the third President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison on charges of crossing.

Does the trace go to Saakashvili

However, during the whole process, not only the convicts’ lawyers, but also the Ukrainian experts who had insight into the case, had reasonable doubts about this “approved” version of the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office.

“As for the release of Ukrainian sailors in Georgia, there was little information about this case in Ukraine and mainly the official version was published, according to which Georgia detained sailors who were sailing on Georgian yachts through Georgian territorial waters. It is obvious that, according to the laws of the sea, they have not violated anything. The reason must have been something else. “The arrest of these sailors may have been related to the presence of one of the members of Mikheil Saakashvili’s team on the yacht.”, – says Ukrainian military analyst Mikhail Samus.

The Ukrainian expert refers to Yuri Baturin, a former member of Mikheil Saakashvili’s bodyguard, Yuri Baturin, a citizen of Georgia, and Yuri Khomich and Vladimir Diachenko, Ukrainian citizens on the yacht. The three-member crew entered the territorial waters of Georgia by ship from the Republic of Turkey on November 28, 2020, and after the crew of the ship did not make contact at the request of the Georgian Coast Guard and headed back to the territorial waters of Turkey, the yacht and its crew were arrested. Such was the version of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, which was shared by the Batumi court.

As for whether the border police were looking for the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, on the detained Ukrainian yacht, and whether the investigation had this suspicion, – in response to these questions, the prosecutor of the case Vladimer Turmanidze told journalists at one of the court hearings that Mikheil Saakashvili’s name and surname It was first heard in connection with this case, but it does not appear in the investigative materials.

But the opposite is claimed by Georgia’s third president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who responded to the pardon of two Ukrainian sailors and a former member of his bodyguard detained by Salome Zurabishvili with an emergency statement on July 19.

“As you know, this boat was arrested because for some reason they thought that I was on this boat, and then they could not say that it was a lie to put completely innocent people in prison.

I want to add one thing to all this: very soon before the meeting in Georgia “, – Mikheil Saakashvili writes on Facebook.

In his post, Mikheil Saakashvili claims that the “usurper government” of Georgia was forced to pardon and release two Ukrainian sailors and former state security officer Mikheil Baturin because “That President Zelensky canceled the bilateral summit that was to be held yesterday between Ukraine and Georgia, and also made it clear in Kiev that President Zelensky would not arrive at the summit convened by the European Union in Batumi, which also includes Charles Michel.”, – Mikheil Saakashvili writes.

A short version of this post of the third President of Georgia has been published by several Ukrainian publications, including “Europaiska Pravda”, but the Georgian side is silent about the cancellation of the Ukraine-Georgia summit or the alleged demarche by Volodymyr Zelensky.

On July 19, by the order of the President of Georgia, the “black spot” was put to an end in the Georgian-Ukrainian relations, the extra entrails do not seem to have been considered necessary during the important summit in Batumi.

“In this situation, in my opinion, both Georgia and Ukraine have done the right thing in resolving this issue and from now on it will no longer hinder the development of relations between the two countries.”, – says Ukrainian military analyst Mikhail Samus.

From Batumi Summit to “Crimean Platform”

Earlier, before the Ukrainian yacht crew problem, Georgia and Ukraine, after much fanfare, were able to resolve the unheard of “misunderstanding” that President Volodymyr Zelensky had appointed the third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, to chair the Ukraine Reform Executive Committee in early May 2020.

The Georgian authorities were dissatisfied with Kiev’s decision and soon Georgian Ambassador to Ukraine Teimuraz Sharashenidze was summoned for consultations. No one knows how long these consultations with the ambassador would have lasted had it not been for the sudden concentration of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders and annexed Crimea, which in April sparked talk of Moscow preparing for another aggression against Ukraine.

Speaking on April 9, 2021 in the Parliament of Georgia, against the background of renewed Russian aggression, the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, expressed solidarity with the struggle in Ukraine and demanded the return of the Ambassador of Georgia from the rostrum of the Parliament that day.

The Georgian ambassador soon returned to Ukraine, but on June 23, during his first official visit to Kiev, Salome Zurabishvili acknowledged that time had been lost in strategic relations between Ukraine and Georgia, adding that from now on the two countries should address common goals.

It was during his stay in Kiev that the President of Georgia invited his Ukrainian counterpart to Georgia to the Batumi Summit. Volodymyr Zelensky received the invitation and visited Georgia for the first time as President together with his Moldovan counterpart and President of the Council of Europe Charles Michel.

“The beginnings of cooperation and interaction, which are being laid today (in Batumi) at the level of presidents, will be developed at the future” Crimean Platform “summit, which, I think, will be attended by Ms. Zurabishvili and Ms. Sandu. And, in general, the inevitable task of our countries is to develop a more effective state policy – to act jointly against Russia, to fight for the return of their occupied territories. “– says Evhen Magda, director of the World Policy Institute in Kiev.

The idea of ​​a single platform is supported in Moldova, but Chisinau prefers to focus on the “Copenhagen criteria”. In other words, the three advanced countries of the Eastern Partnership – Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia – need to make more efforts to achieve three practical tasks in order to move closer to the EU.

“In our countries, including with the financial assistance of the European Union, we need to develop infrastructure projects, approve independent courts and create a ‘friendly atmosphere’ for businesses to attract investment. “When all this goes into effect, I think our countries can very easily prove that they meet the ‘Copenhagen criteria’ to become candidates for EU membership.”– says Igor Botan, a Moldovan analyst and CEO of Adept.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Botan said, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine must first learn to stand together.

The Batumi Summit can be said to be the first step in demonstrating this “standing together” and one does not know whether it consisted of not the participation of Charles Michel and the pardon of the Ukrainian sailors and crew members sentenced to imprisonment by the Batumi court. It happened today.