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Ukraine Attempts Arrest of Georgia’s Ex-President Saakashvili

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 6
(KYIV) -- Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili was briefly detained in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv after being accused of cooperating with organized crime syndicates and concealing the crimes committed by the groups.

Ukraine’s SBU security services raided Saakashvili’s apartment, located near the Maidan Square where a pro-democracy revolution supported by Saakashvili overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian former President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

After SBU members entered Saakashvili’s home, he fled to the roof of the building and addressed his supporters before threatening to jump if he was detained.

He later gave himself to the law enforcement officers, but his supporters – gathered in the square below – blocked the police convey and later freed Saakashvili after storming a van that he’d been placed in.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko earlier accused Saakashvili of plotting a coup against the country’s President Petro Poroshenko – a one-time Saakashvili ally.

Yulia Tymoshenko - leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party and one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution - stated Saakashvili’s arrest was politically motivated and orchestrated by supporters of Poroshenko who see the former as a threat to their business interests.

Members of Georgia’s opposition parties claim Saakashvili’s detention was part of a deal between the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and Poroshenko.

Saakashvili is accused in Georgia of abuse of power relating to the closure of media organizations and the violent crackdown of protestors during his time in office.

The Georgian Dream confirmed that he may be extradited to Georgia if Ukraine decides to deport him.

Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili as governor of the Odessa Region in May 2015, granting him the Ukrainian citizenship.

As a result of this, Tbilisi stripped him of his Georgian passport stating he violated the country’s law on dual citizenship.

Saakashvili resigned as Odessa’s governor in November 2016 accusing the Ukrainian government of corruption.

In July, Poroshenko annulled his executive order and stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship, leaving him stateless.