Supporters free ex-Georgia president from Ukraine police

08 December, 2017, 01:59 | Author: Irene Delgado
  • Mikheil Saakashvili Former President of Georgia threatens to jump off roof as prosecutors arrive at his home

The 49-year-old Saakashvili was president of the country for almost 10 years after the 2003 Rose revolution before losing power.

Dragged from the roof by the police after denouncing Mr. Poroshenko as a traitor and a thief, the former Georgian leader was detained but then freed by his supporters, who, amid raucous scenes on the street, blocked a security service van before it could take Mr. Saakashvili to a Kiev detention center and allowed him to escape. "I owe you my freedom and my life". One protester climbed atop the van and waved the Ukrainian flag. Ukrainian prosecutors accuse him of colluding with Ukrainian businessmen who have ties to Russian intelligence as part of an effort to topple the president. He has repeatedly mentioned Putin's reported threat to have him hanged.

Oksana Syroyed of the Self Reliance Party also denounced the attempted arrest as an action by a "despotic machine". Later, the law enforcers detained Saakashvili and put him in an SBU van, but a crowd of the politician, who is now challenging Ukraine's decision on stripping him of Ukrainian citizenship, have blocked the auto from driving away.

He served as one-time governor of the Odessa region after being appointed by Mr Poroshenko in 2015.

Analysts in Kiev, however, don't see the Saakashvili case sparking protests big enough to challenge Poroshenko.

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After the "release", Saakashvili led his supporters to rally outside the Verkhovna Rada where PG Yuriy Lutsenko presented evidence of the politician's wrongdoings.

Mr Lutsenko gave Mr Saakashvili until Wednesday evening to surrender, but the leader of Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution only urged more people to join a camp where his supporters have built makeshift barricades and gathered mounds of rocks to hurl at police if they attempt another raid.

The tensions in Kiev come as fighting continues between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, was clearly relishing the turmoil in Kiev.

He once again called on Saakashvili to report to the investigator's office, and urged "all those who have been deceived by his demagogy, to dismantle tents and stop destroying Ukraine". "It's Ukraine's headache. It's something you wouldn't wish to even your enemy, but, of course, we don't consider the Ukrainian people our enemy".

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