Home / World News / Ex-Georgia president Mikheil Saakashvili broken free from police custody

Ex-Georgia president Mikheil Saakashvili broken free from police custody

Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili has been broken free from police custody by his supporters after being arrested in chaotic scenes in Ukraine.

Saakashvili was arrested by masked officers from an apartment in the capital Kiev after he addressed hundreds of supporters from the roof of the building.

In dramatic scenes, he reportedly threatened to jump off but was dragged to a police van.

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 crowd managed to break him free from the vehicle hours later, prompting Saakashvili to call for protests demanding the removal of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko from office.

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is detained by security officers in Ukraine.
Saakashvili is detained by security officers in Ukraine

“I urge you to start a peaceful protest to remove Poroshenko, you should not be afraid of anything,” he told the crowd.

Saakashvili has emerged as an anti-corruption campaigner in Ukraine.

Before his arrest, he accused Mr Poroshenko, his one-time ally, of being a traitor and a thief as he addressed supporters.

“What they are doing is lawlessness in the eyes of the whole world,” he said.

“I urge all Ukrainians to take to the streets and drive out the thieves.”

Police officers use tear gas against supporters of Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili during clashes in Kiev
Police officers use tear gas against Saakashvili’s supporters

Saakashvili, 49, had been arrested on suspicion of assisting a criminal organisation, which carries a five-year jail sentence.

Prosecutors say he is suspected of colluding with Ukrainian businessmen with ties to Russian intelligence in order to topple Mr Poroshenko.

It is the latest twist in a prolonged feud between Ukrainian authorities and Saakashvili, who left Georgia in 2013 after serving as president for nearly a decade.

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

Supporters of former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili clash with police officers in Kiev,
Supporters tried to stop a police van from taking Saakshvili away

His Ukrainian citizenship was revoked earlier this year while he was out of the country, but he returned in September after supporters broke through a police line at the Polish border

“We have been waiting for (the arrest) for months, of course, and especially in the recent weeks,” Saakashvili’s wife Sandra Roelofs told Georgian TV Rustavi 2.

“It’s illegal and outrageous.”

Saakashvili was president of Georgia during the country’s five-day war with Russia in 2008.

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