Ukrainian Security Arrests Saakashvili

Saul Bowman
December 9, 2017

His detention, first reported on his Facebook page, was confirmed by Ukraine's Prosecutor General.

He was later freed from police custody by a crowd of his supporters.

On Tuesday, police tried to arrest Saakashvili at his apartment building.

"We consider it unacceptable when the leaders of any law enforcement bodies, including anti-corruption, begin to play in the political field", he told a news conference during a visit to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

The authorities responded by giving him a deadline of 24 hours to hand himself in.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said she had a constructive phone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko late on Thursday in which she urged him to speed up the fight against corruption.

General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko later acknowledged that the operation could have been carried out more effectively, but said police had acted in accordance with the law.

Saakashvili's extraordinary energy and strong charisma took him to the forefront of the 2003 Rose Revolution that forced out the government in his native Georgia.

If found guilty, he could face up to five years in jail. Georgia had earlier stripped his citizenship and sought his extradition on charges of abuse of power while president. He claims the accusations are politically motivated. Vowing to stay until Mr. Saakashvili was released, they lit fires in the street to keep warm, just as protesters did in the winter of 2013-14 during an ultimately successful campaign to oust Ukraine's previous president, Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Scores of Mr. Saakashvili's supporters gathered overnight outside the detention center, which is operated by the domestic security agency, and chanted "glory to Ukraine" and other slogans.

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