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Drama unfolds in Kyiv as police arrest the former Georgian leader, then give way to onslaught by his supporters.5 December 2017
Supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili freed him from a police van on a Kyiv street today, hours after Ukrainian security officers raided the former Georgian president’s apartment this morning and arrested him.
Supporters gathered outside the building and blocked the street for hours and eventually released Saakashvili from the vehicle, according to a Washington Post report.
Shortly after his release, the outspoken opposition politician held a “defiant impromptu rally in front of parliament in Kyiv” and called for President Petro Poroshenko’s resignation, RFE/RL reports.
When the raid began, Saakashvili made his way up to the roof of the building and threatened to jump – meanwhile making a speech to supporters who had gathered on the street below. After he was detained, supporters clashed with police and shots were fired, according to Hromadske International.
Ukrainian media wrote that Saakashvili may have been suspected of preparing a coup against Poroshenko, The Washington Post says. Saakashvili’s lawyer, Markiyan Halabala, said his client is charged with facilitating the activities of a criminal group, Ukrinform reports.
A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Security Service, or SBU, told RFE/RL that the search of his apartment was part of a criminal inquiry conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Saakashvili has attracted the ire of Poroshenko and state prosecutors since he quit his post as governor of Odessa – a post Poroshenko personally appointed him to.
At the time, Saakashvili was harsh in his criticism of Poroshenko, who he accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in the region.
His resignation was quickly followed by a public falling out of the two men, who were once firm allies. Saakashvili, an exile from his native Georgia since rivals came to power there, has since repositioned himself as an outspoken critic of the Poroshenko regime.
Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces party was behind a “March for Impeachment” in Kyiv on 3 December, the Kyiv Post reports.
On 29 November Saakashvili claimed Poroshenko had ordered his arrest on charges of plotting a coup, according to the report.
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