TV star Tina Kandelaki claims she suffered ‘harassment’ from disgraced former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili


If you asked a Russian to name two Georgian-born public figures, it’s likely the answer would be Mikhail Saakashvili and Tina Kandelaki. Now the latter has accused the former of subjecting her to harassment.

Kandelaki claims Saakashvili took umbrage at some comments she made during a private conversation some years ago, and he reacted by having her blocked from entering their country.

The TV star explained that Georgians have a tradition of burying great leaders in Svetitskhoveli, a cathedral outside Tbilisi. There, the celebrated figures ashes are laid under the slab of the temple and people can walk on it. Kandelaki said she told Saakashvili “not a single Georgian foot would step” on his grave when the time comes.

According to her, the politician was a vengeful man and had her banned from her homeland for many years. “We had a wild scandal,” she told YouTube show ‘Girlfriends.’ “For many years they didn’t let me come into Georgia, because he was trying to screw me in that sense.”

Both from Tbilisi, they have taken radically different paths in life. Journalist Kandelaki, now 44, moved to Moscow 25 years ago to work in radio, and later became a Russian citizen. She’s now a household name as a TV presenter, and she also runs Russia’s largest sports channel, Match TV.

The pro-American Saakhashvili took control of his country from 2004-2013 with the clear intention of pulling Georgia into Washington’s orbit. After leaving office in 2013, he was prosecuted for abuse of power and fled the country. In 2015, he was stripped of his Georgian citizenship, after taking a Ukrainian passport and moving into politics in Odessa, under the US-backed post-Maidan presidency of Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili later fell out with his patron in Kiev and was booted out of the country, before returning last year.

Saakashvili, who led Georgia into a short 2008 war with Russia, is a widely disliked figure for Russians. He currently serves as head of Ukraine’s National Reform Council, having been personally appointed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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