Supporters free ex-Georgian president from detention in Ukraine


On Tuesday, the former president of Georgia and ex-governor of Ukraine's Odessa Region confined himself to the roof of his house in Kiev, while security forces searched his flat. For more than an hour, Saakashvili's supporters refused to budge from around the van, despite attempts by a substantial riot police contingent to dislodge them.

Earlier in the day, the Security Service of Ukraine said Saakashvili was arrested on suspicion of "aiding members of criminal groups and covering up their criminal activity".

"We are going to parliament to demand the impeachment".

"We are not accustomed to replying to the statements by people who perch on rooftops", he said when commenting on Saakashvili's claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a role in allegedly plotting his "abduction".

Saakashvili's lawyer Beka Beselia says that the former president's detention is "politically motivated" and he would not be surprised if Ukraine extradites Saakashvili to Georgia. More than 200 Saakashvili supporters flooded the streets near his apartment in Kiev, blocking the vehicle transporting him to a detention facility.

Saakashvili was wearing a flag with Ukraine's yellow and blue colors around his neck as he marched in central Kiev surrounded by supporters.

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But his supporters prevented the van holding Saakashvili from leaving, forming a barricade with tyres, wood and stones and chanting "Kiev, rise up!" as police fired tear gas. The detainee is still inside the police vehicle.

The scene recalled an opposition rally this past weekend in Kiev's Independence Square, where thousands of demonstrators listened as Saakashvili called for the establishment of a permanent protest camp against the Ukrainian president.

He became a regional governor in Ukraine in 2014 but quit in 2016, complaining that his efforts to root out corruption were being obstructed.

Ukrainian police have detained the former president of Georgia who has emerged as an anti-corruption campaigner in his new country.

Given the drama that unfolded at his apartment building Tuesday, however, it's unlikely that Saakashvili plans to make this process easy on Ukrainian authorities.

In September, he defied the Ukrainian government and forced his way back into the conflict-riven country with the help of supporters.