In a dramatic standoff with Ukrainian law enforcement, the former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was detained in Kiev and then broke free, giving an address to supporters outside Ukraine’s parliament.
Officers from the security service (SBU) entered Saakashvili’s flat in central Kiev early on Tuesday morning, but he fled to the roof and threatened to jump, Ukrainian media reported.
After he was dragged away by masked security forces agents, there were clashes on the ground as supporters of Saakashvili blocked the van trying to take the politician away. Teargas was used against protesters during the hour-long standoff after which Saakashvili was released from the van.
He led a group of supporters to parliament, where he gave a speech denouncing Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko as “the head of an organised crime gang”. He said Poroshenko’s government was “trying to get rid of a loud voice telling them they are thieves”.
It was unclear what charges, if any, Saakashvili faced. Lawyers close to the politician suggested he could be charged with supporting criminal groups or plotting a coup. There were also suggestions he could be deported to Georgia, where he faces criminal charges that he has said are politically motivated.
Ukraine’s general prosecutor said on Tuesday afternoon that Saakashvili’s activities in the country were funded by an ally of the deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, currently in exile in Russia.
Saakashvili dismissed this as nonsense: “There is no greater enemy of Putin in the post-Soviet space than Mikheil Saakashvili,” he said, insisting it was Poroshenko who was acting to benefit the Russian president. Read more