News 5 december — 16:23

Saakashvili freed by supporters in Kyiv (Updated, Photo, Video)

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Supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili freed the former Georgian president from a police van amid chaotic scenes after Ukrainian security forces stormed his apartment in Kyiv, dragged him off the roof, and detained him.

According to RFE/RL, amid a dramatic standoff between police in riot gear and hundreds of protesters who blocked streets in an effort to prevent the authorities from taking him away, Saakashvili was pulled from the van despite police resistance. He called for President Petro Poroshenko's exit from power.

"I urge you to start a peaceful protest to remove Poroshenko. You should not be afraid of anything," Saakashvili told the crowd.

* * * 12:48

Former Georgian President and ex-Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili has been detained by Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) in Kyiv.

According to RFE/RL, SBU spokeswoman Olena Hitlyanska said on December 5 that a search of Saakashvili's apartment was conducted along with investigators from the Prosecutor-General's Office. She did not mention the reason for the search.

Media reports in Ukraine quoted Saakashvili's associate, David Sakvarelidze, as saying that Saakashvili was on the roof of the eight-story apartment building where he lives while the SBU searched his apartment.

He was later taken from the roof by SBU officers and taken to a car outside his apartment building. But the car was unable to leave the site as dozens of people blocked its path.

Video on Facebook showed dozens of riot police around the apartment building preventing people from entering the premises.

The search of Saakashvili's home was conducted two days after his Movement of New Forces party organized a mass rally in Kyiv demanding the impeachment of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Thousands of demonstrators dispersed peacefully after marching through the city center and holding a rally in downtown Kyiv.

The protests were initially called by Saakashvili, a onetime Poroshenko ally, but many of Ukraine's opposition political leaders also joined the demonstrations.

 

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