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World

AFP
December 6, 2017

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Supporters free ex-Georgian leader Saakashvili from Ukraine police van

KIEV: Hundreds of supporters freed former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili from a Ukrainian police van on Tuesday after he was arrested by the country’s security services on criminal charges.
The dramatic showdown between hundreds of Saakashvili supporters and the Ukrainian authorities followed a long-running feud with President Petro Poroshenko who stripped the 49-year-old politician of his passport.
In September, Saakashvili, who was a regional governor in Ukraine, defied the authorities and forced his way back into the conflict-riven country with the help of his supporters. He has led protests against his government since October. On Monday morning, police raided Saakashvili’s flat, prompting him to climb onto the roof of his central Kiev building and address supporters below before officers led him down into the vehicle.
The security service said Saakashvili was arrested on charges of assisting criminal organisations. Ukraine’s general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko accused Saakashvili and his allies of receiving $500,000 from Russian sources to fund the protests against the Ukrainian government. After Saakashvili’s detention several hundred people gathered around the van carrying the politician and prevented it from moving before freeing the politician from inside.
After emerging from the van with a handcuff on one hand, Saakashvili urged the crowd to march to the Ukrainian parliament and demand the impeachment of the president. "There are millions of us, we are very strong," he said. Speaking earlier from the roof, he accused Poroshenko of a being a thief and "a traitor to the people of Ukraine". "I call on all decent Ukrainians to take to the streets and drive out these thieves... I call on Ukrainians not to allow me to be abducted, I appeal to the people of Kiev not to allow lawlessness."

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