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Supporters free Georgian ex-leader Saakashvili from Ukraine police van

05 December 2017

- Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who has emerged as an anti-corruption campaigner, urged Ukrainians Sunday to set up a protest camp in Kiev's main square if parliament fails to adopt a law on presidential impeachment within a week.

The Ukrainian Security Service officers detain Mikheil Saakashvili at the entrance of his house in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

"What's next? now it's not a matter of deportation or extradition (to Georgia), it's a matter of questioning the suspect about a particularly serious crime", he said.

The former president was arrested by Ukrainian police in the morning, but security personnel failed to transport him until now.

After Saakashvili's detention several hundred people gathered around the van carrying the politician and prevented it from moving before freeing the politician from inside.

Prosecutors are accusing Saakashvili of colluding with Ukrainian businessmen with ties to Russian Federation to topple President Petro Poroshenko.

Saakashvili, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, marched to the parliament to demand Poroshenko's resignation.

Saakashvili called on his supporters to go to Maidan and continue the "peaceful protest".

"This morning in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, my husband was taken by government troops from his home and moved by force into a minivan that was subsequently blocked by hundreds of his supporters, growing already into the thousands", Saakashvili's wife Sandra Roelofs said earlier on her Facebook page.

Saakashvili then somehow managed to break free and addressed the crowd, calling for protests against President Petro Poroshenko. But he quit that office in 2016, complaining that his efforts to root out corruption suffered official obstruction.

The National Police of Ukraine has opened criminal proceedings against Saakashvili and his supporters over the unlawful border crossing.

In September, Saakashvili, who was a regional governor in Ukraine, defied the authorities and forced his way back into the conflict-riven country with the help of his supporters. The Ukraine's Security Service issued a statement saying that Saakashvili was charged with "complicity with members of criminal organizations and concealing their activity by providing premises and by other means".

Supporters free Georgian ex-leader Saakashvili from Ukraine police van