Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili has been broken free from police custody by his supporters after being arrested in chaotic scenes in Ukraine.
"The current Ukrainian authorities, born by Maidan (protests named after the square they took place), who suspect Mikhail Saakashvili of attempting to stage a coup d'etat, have whipped themselves with a birch", said Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council's Committee for Defense and Security. Saakashvili resigned in 2016, complaining that his efforts to root out corruption were being obstructed by officials.
Masked officers dragged Saakashvili from an apartment in the capital Kiev while his supporters protested on the street and tried to stop the police van from leaving.
However, several hundred supporters blocked the road and surrounded the van, refusing to let it drive off. One protester climbed atop the van and waved the Ukrainian flag. His supporters broke through the cordon of border guards and security forces and escorted him into Ukraine. He tried to address the crowd again as he was being bundled into a blue minivan which was then surrounded by protesters.
Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili struggles out of a police vehicle in Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017. "Call your family and neighbors, let them all come here, let's all stand together".
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It is the latest twist in a prolonged feud between Ukrainian authorities and Saakashvili, who left Georgia in 2013 after serving as president for almost a decade. He left the country in 2013.
Saakashvili could face up to five years if found guilty.
Saakashvili's standoff with Poroshenko ignited long-simmering popular discontent with the slow pace of reforms the latter has promised. Saakashvili was subsequently detained and is to be questioned on suspicion of assisting criminals and concealing their criminal activities.
Ukraine's general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko accused Saakashvili and his allies of receiving $500,000 (420,000 euros) from Russian sources to fund the protests against the Ukrainian government. "Saakashvili has already been sentenced to pre-trial detention in Georgia and he will be arrested as soon as he appears in the country", Beselia said.