Saakashvili on the roof of his house. Photo: 112.ua
In the morning of December 5, law enforcers came to search the house of ex-Georgian President and ex-Odesa Oblast governor Mikheil Saakashvili in Kyiv, Ukraine. As a result, Saakashvili was detained. This happened after more than a month and a half of permanent protests near the Ukrainian Parliament and across Ukraine, led by Saakashvili. In particular, just two days before the arrest, Saakashvili organized a large march and rally in support of adopting a law on the impeachment of the president. Now, Saakashvili’s supporters have gathered around his house to prevent the law enforcers from taking him away.
The law enforcement officers came to the house of the politician in Kyiv early in the morning. His ally Davit Sakvarelidze informed about this on his Facebook page. Saakashvili’s supporters started to gather near his house. The politician ran the roof of the building and talked to his supporters from it. In the end, he was detained.
The Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) stated that they are implementing investigative actions together with General Prosecutor’s Office. The statement on the SBU site says that he is detained in terms of of criminal proceedings, opened under Part 1 of Art. 256 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (assisting members of criminal organizations and covering their criminal activities). The article foresees imprisonment from 3 to 5 years.
His lawyers were not allowed to come. However, the law enforcers said that they submitted a suspicion, according to the law.
When the law enforcers led Saakashvili out, the protesters near the street blocked the bus with the detained politician.
Unrest is expected within the Parliament today. The leader of Batkivshchyna party Yuliya Tymoshenko has already condemned the actions of the law enforcers.
The protests near the Parliament started in October. Led by representatives of NGOs and politicians, protesters came out with the demand of a “great political reform”.
It included three main demands: to change the election rules, to create an Anti-Corruption Court, and to cancel parliamentary immunity. Later the representatives of NGOs stated that they are going to continue the protest in another format, while the politicians lead by Saakashvili stayed in the street calling for impeachment.
Earlier this year, Saakashvili was deprived of his Ukrainian citizenship when he was abroad. Despite the lack of legal reasons to return to Ukraine, Saakashvili managed to do it with the help of protesters who helped him to cross the border.
A livestream by Radio Svoboda:
12:56: The van with Saakashvili is blocked by his supporters near Yevropeiska Ploshcha. The atmosphere is violent.
Some are setting up barricades on the square.
Бруківка та імпічмент. Люди повстали на захист Саакашвілі. pic.twitter.com/0zb6Otn0s0
— Alex Ryabchyn (@alexrbchn) 5 грудня 2017 р.
Following the morning detention of ex-Georgian President and ex-Odesa Oblast governor Mikheil Saakashvili in his house in Kyiv, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko had a briefing with journalists. During it, he presented a video which allegedly proves Saakashvili and his allies were cooperating with Serhiy Kurchenko, a runaway oligarch from the entourage of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. In particular, he released the video of the conversation between Saakashvili and Kurchenko. Read more here: Prosecutor General accuses Saakashvili in cooperating with pro-Russian oligarch, latter calls for protests
After a several-hour-long standoff between law enforcement and Saakashvili supporters, the latter manage to help the politician escape the blockaded van. Saakashvili, heading a column of his supporters, is heading towards the Ukrainian Parliament. In a video, he called upon Ukrainians to “stand up against Poroshenko and his gang,” calling them to come protest at Kyiv’s central square, Maidan, and vowed to get rid of oligarchs.
Saakashvili is already near the Verkhovna Rada:
Saakashvili has arrived at Ukraine’s parliament and is about to address this crowd. pic.twitter.com/17bXg0wEKs
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) December 5, 2017
Saakashvili addressing the crowd: “Power in Ukraine has been seized by an organized criminal group.”
Other key points:
“Ukraine will be the largest nation in Europe”
“I will never be like Putin”
“Get rid of the gang,” the rallying cry of Maidan, taken up by Saakashvili protests
“Real Ukrainians have to be in the government”
The U.S. Embassy calls to deescalate tensions:
We are aware that Mr Saakashvili was detained and that protests are ongoing. We call for all sides to deescalate tensions and avoid violence. We are monitoring the situation closely and expect any investigation will be conducted expeditiously and in accordance with Ukrainian law.
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) December 5, 2017
Saakashvili calls an “absolute fake” the claim of Prosecutor General Lutsenko that he has received $500,000 from Yanukovych ally, fugitive oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko.
While Saakashvili addresses crowd outside parliament, inside Prosecutor-General Lutsenko plays recording allegedly of Saakashvili cutting a deal with Yanukovych ally Kurchenko to help oust Poroshenko. Saakashvili says recording is "fake." https://t.co/CQ6EULSGmi
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) December 5, 2017
Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko is now outlining charges against Saakashvili in the Verkhovna Rada:
— Nick Connolly (@niklasconnolly) December 5, 2017
The Kyiv Police detained 9 persons involved in the standoff in central Kyiv today, reportedly, “most of them have been released.”
PG Lutsenko says in the Verkhovna Rada that law enforcers will use best endeavors to detain Saakashvili within 24 hours and calls on Saakashvili to appear before the investigators at 09:00 tomorrow.
Today’s events in Kyiv in 30 seconds:
Today's events in Kyiv in 30 seconds. pic.twitter.com/vKtkFvStLi
— RFE/RL (@RFERL) December 5, 2017
- 4500-strong protest at Ukrainian parliament demands “great political reform,” camps for the night
- Saakashvili enters Ukraine after fans storm border crossing
- Saakashvili needs to respect the country that gave him shelter
- Poroshenko strips “old buddy” Saakashvili of citizenship; Ukraine returning to selective justice
- Poroshenko’s conflict with Saakashvili jeopardizes Ukraine