Ukraine and Georgia are on the brink of a diplomatic scandal
The second round of presidential elections in Georgia was held on 28 November, 2018. It was won by an independent candidate Salome Zurabishvili who became the country's first female President. Because of her victory and electoral defeat of Grigol Vashadze, who was supported by Georgia's ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili now living in the Netherlands and being convicted in absentia of a list of cases in Georgia, the losing party called on its supporters to protest in front of the building of Parliament.
During this protest action, the police of Georgia detained six armed citizens of Ukraine and one Georgian national, Luka Chkhetia, known for his relations with Saakashvili. According to preliminary information, among the detained Ukrainians there was Semen Semenchenko, the former leader of the Donbas Battalion and current Ukrainian MP from the Samopomich party.
On the day of the protest, the Adviser to President Yury Birukov wrote on Facebook that Semenchenko was connected with the detainees and he was the one who involved Ukraine in this diplomatic scandal. As for Semenchenko, he confirmed on his Facebook account that he had been in Georgia and provided assistance to the detained and innocent Ukrainian tourists, who entered the country in the capacity of observers in elections. However, he denied his involvement in the protests, describing it just as fake stuff. It is worth noting that the detained Ukrainian tourists also used to be soldiers of the Donbas Battalion. Together with Semenchenko, who managed to avoid arrest thanks to his diplomatic passport, they had assisted actively Saakashvili during his conflict with Ukrainian authorities in Kiev a year ago.
According to some Ukrainian and Georgian media reports, Semenchenko and his militants did a disservice to Georgian opposition and personally M. Saakashvili as the latter was not satisfied with Semenchenko's initiative that disrupted larger-scale operation for the purpose of supporting protestors in Georgia.
The incident concerning Ukraine's intervention in Georgia's democratic processes seriously undermines the trust between the two countries. However, the unsuccessful attempt to have an impact on the results of voting and to undermine Georgia's political stability works to the benefit of Georgian authorities as the country's special services are now aware of provocations that are currently under preparation, and will be able to prevent them.