Georgia is losing its independence, with Russia gradually taking control of it, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said at the Tbilisi City Court.
"I am here because I love Georgia infinitely. I had everything in Ukraine, including a leading position and comfortable living conditions. While in Ukraine, I was offered the prime ministerial post twice during [Petro] Poroshenko's presidency, but I declined, solely for the sake of being able to return to Georgia, which I love madly and where there was a real threat of my physical elimination," Saakashvili said in an address to citizens at the start of his statement in court on Monday.
Saakashvili said that while meeting with Georgian emigrants in various countries, they told him about how hard life is in Georgia, which "is losing its independence and is gradually coming under Russia's control."
"During my presidency, ordinary people lived much better than now. This concerns the national currency's exchange rate and unemployment. It's a tragedy that crowds of Georgians travel to Poland for seasonal work to make a living. Nearly 700,000 citizens have emigrated from Georgia in the past years. This is a tragedy taking place before our very eyes. I couldn't sit and wait in Kyiv seeing my country break apart," he said.
Prosecutor Jarji Tsiklauri interrupted Saakashvili's speech, saying that it has nothing to do with the criminal case being heard in the courthouse, an Interfax correspondent reported.
The court is hearing a criminal case on a count of abuse of office during the dispersal of an opposition rally in Tbilisi on November 7, 2007 and the ransacking of the Imedi television company office by security forces the same day.
Saakashvili's trial is continuing.