The European Union negotiated a deal in April to ease a political crisis between the ruling Georgian Dream party and opposition groups, including the Saakashvili United National Movement, the country’s second largest political force.
The agreement stipulated that early parliamentary elections should be called in 2022 if Georgian Dream obtains less than 43% of all proportional votes in local elections in the country’s 64 municipalities.
It is not clear, however, whether the EU’s deal will be followed. In July, Georgian Dream withdrew from the agreement because the United National Movement had not yet signed it. The opposition party finally signed this month, and Saakashvili urged his supporters to come to the polls in force.
Saakashvili’s intense smile in custody underscored his penchant for public drama, especially his daring entries into unwelcoming places.
He first gained international attention during the Rose Revolution protests in 2003 when he led a mob of protesters who broke into a parliamentary session, forcing then-president Edouard Shevardnadze to to flee ; Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, resigned a day later.
In 2017, he made his way with a host of supporters to Ukraine from Poland, after his Ukrainian citizenship was canceled.
Returning to Georgia even though he risked some arrest, Saakashvili also echoed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who returned from Germany to Moscow in January, was arrested on his arrival and then sent to prison.