Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
World | By Melba Underwood

Ex-Georgia leader Mikheil Saakashvili arrested in Kiev

Ex-Georgia leader Mikheil Saakashvili arrested in Kiev

"This is Ukraine's headache and I don't wish this upon an enemy", he said answering a question if Moscow takes any side in Saakashvili's standoff with Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko.

Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili has been broken free from police custody by his supporters after being arrested in chaotic scenes in Ukraine. The special forces removed the politician from the roof of his house where he climbed while trying to hide from the law enforcement agents who raided his house. "I owe you my freedom and my life". One protester climbed atop the van and waved the Ukrainian flag.

Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili is detained by officers of the Security Service of Ukraine, conducting a search of his apartment, in Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017.

Saakashvili has won broad popularity in Ukraine with his fiery campaign against official corruption, riding a wave of public frustration over Poroshenko's failure to uproot endemic graft.

He has staged a series of rallies calling for the President's resignation, but they have not produced any visible impact.

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Prosecutor general Yury Lutsenko said at a briefing that Mr Saakashvili received $500,000 to hold protests from an associate of former president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled amid mass street demonstrations in 2014. Prosecutors accuse him of being part of a Russia-linked plot to topple the country's President Petro Poroshenko.

Poroshenko named Saakashvili as governor of the Odessa region in 2015, but he stepped down the following year after falling out with the president.

Analysts in Kiev, however, don't see the Saakashvili case sparking protests big enough to challenge Poroshenko. "We call on all to fully respect and support the constitutional and legal order of Ukraine, adhere to the rights and responsibilities of peaceful protest, and refrain from attempts at destabilisation", ambassadors in Kiev from G7 states said in a joint statement on Wednesday. "Has experience taught you nothing?" he wrote, referring to the deadly clashes in Kiev that prompted pro-Kremlin ex-president Viktor Yanukovich to flee to Russian Federation in 2014.

"Saakashvili has a small but a noticeable number of hyperactive supporters ready for action", Kiev-based analyst Volodymyr Fesenko told The Associated Press.

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