Tbilisi complied with the request for Kiev after an 8-month “battle”


Those detained on charges of illegal group violation of the border in the territorial waters of Georgia were released on July 19 on the basis of a pardon act of the President of Georgia, together with another detainee – Georgian citizen Mikheil Baturin. Baturin is a former member of the bodyguard of Georgia’s ex-president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and considers the case to be absolutely politicized. Ukrainian media also speaks about the alleged political suit.

“Human security means when Ukraine does not leave its citizens in distress” – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba wrote on his Facebook page after the Georgian President Pardon According to the act, two Ukrainian sailors arrested on November 28, 2020 were released from prison.

Dmitry Kuleba added a photo to his Facebook post, in which the released Yuri Khomich and Vladimir Dyachenko were taken in Batumi with the Ukrainian consul Irina Marhono. The Minister writes that everyone is satisfied and happy that the release of the detainees was achieved as a result of a long struggle:

“Today we released the detainees in Georgia – Yuri Khomich and Vladimir Diachenko. “Since their arrest in November 2020, we have worked hard and consistently to fight for their release, just as we are fighting for each and every one of our citizens who are in need abroad.”

The Minister immediately states that “A few days ago” There was no belief that the process would end so well.

According to the Administration of the President of Georgia, the act of pardon of Ukrainian border guards was already issued by Salome Zurabishvili on July 17 and entered into force on July 19 – “This is a fulfillment of the agreement reached between the two presidents during their official visit to Kiev.”

Dmitry Kuleba also describes the process of “struggle”, the success of which he emphasizes the activity of President Zelensky. According to Kuleba:

  • The detainees had the constant support of consuls in trials;
  • Spoke to his Georgian counterpart, Davit Zalkaliani – “We were looking for any combination to bring back our citizens”;
  • The release of the detainees was achieved through the direct intervention of President Zelensky and an agreement between the “leaders of Georgia and Ukraine.”

Georgian citizen Mikheil Baturin, who considers himself absolutely innocent and has not appealed to the President for pardon, was also released along with the Ukrainian prisoners.

Major Baturin, a former member of the bodyguard of Georgia’s third president, Mikheil Saakashvili, told RFE / RL that they only had the legal right to “cross the yacht” legally and that everything was related to the current Georgian government’s attitude towards Mikheil Saakashvili.

Baturin confirms the previously spread information that the guards were looking for Mikheil Saakashvili on the yacht. This fact was denied by the prosecution.

(Baturin’s interview will be included here)

Kiev does not focus on how well-founded the detention of Ukrainian citizens was. However, Ukrainian media reported that lawyers and relatives of the detained Ukrainians considered the case to be politically motivated. It was clearly difficult for Ukrainian experts to see the blame for the sailors’ actions.

There are also reports that the detainees did not appeal to President Zurabishvili for pardon.

The media also emphasizes the fact that the detainees were released on the day of President Zelensky’s arrival in Georgia.

Ukrainian journalists also recall the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities to ask the Georgian side for an objective investigation of the case, to change the measure of restraint and to release the detainees at various times, with special notes or personal conversations.

The priority issue for Kiev could not be resolved for the whole 8 months. However, this does not come as a big surprise to many, given the particularly tense relations between Kiev and Tbilisi at the time. this Tension too Mostly connected with Mikheil Saakashvili.

Former President Mikheil Saakashvili speaks about strong and principled pressure from Kiev and a kind of ultimatum.

On July 19, a Facebook post read that without releasing Ukrainian prisoners, President Zelensky refused to visit Batumi as part of an international conference and the Associated Trio summit.

Zelensky himself or any other Ukrainian government official has not commented on the matter.