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Saakashvili freed by supporters from police van in Kiev, calls to oust President Poroshenko

RT / The ex-president of Georgia turned Ukrainian opposition leader has called on his supporters to topple the current Ukrainian leader and his “gang.” Earlier, protesters freed the politician from the police van taking him in for questioning. Saakashvili’s supporters broke the rear door of the van he was being transported in. The protesters took Saakashvili to a nearby church, where he addressed the crowd. The opposition leader called on the protesters to take to the infamous Maidan Square and topple incumbent Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko and his “gang.”

READ MORE: Why did Georgia’s ex-leader Saakashvili threaten to jump off roof in Kiev?

“I will lay down my life for Ukraine’s freedom. I want to call on all the Kievans to take to the streets today, to gather in Maidan and start the process of deliverance of Petro Poroshenko and his gang from Ukraine,” Saakashvili said addressing the crowd.

As the politician finished his anti-government speech, the protesters started marching through the streets of the Ukrainian capital.

Police officers use tear gas against supporters of Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili during clashes in Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017. © Gleb Garanich / Reuters After the march, crowds gathered in front of the Ukrainian parliament building, where Saakashvili spoke in front of his supporters. The leader of Ukrainian opposition party ‘Movement of New Forces’ reiterated the call to impeach the Ukrainian president and take to the streets “to continue peaceful protest.” He also said that the evening rally should gather more people than before, claiming that there were 50,000 at the previous demonstration. In recent months, the opposition leader has been organizing protests in the country, targeting mainly his former friend and ally Petro Poroshenko.  

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— SIght REAL (@real_sight) December 5, 2017 The standoff between the protesters and Ukrainian security forces lasted for several hours, leaving several people injured, before Saakashvili’s forced release. On Tuesday morning, the former Georgian president went on the roof of his apartment building in Kiev and threatened to jump off, while security forces searched his apartment. After the opposition activist was detained, supporters started blocking the nearby streets with tires, stones, bins, and cars to prevent police from taking Saakashvili to a detention facility. 

The police van became stuck in the crowd, and protests smashed the front window. Ukrainian security forces used tear gas and deployed more officers to the site in attempt to clear the way. The protesters tried to break the police cordon and used what appears to be pepper spray against the officers.

Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili struggles out of a police car in Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017. © Oleh Tereshchenko / Reuters

Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017. © Gleb Garanich / Reuters Ukrainian security forces want to question the out-of-favor politician on suspicion of assisting criminals and concealing their criminal activities.

© Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters Saakashvili was once a close ally of current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who granted him citizenship and appointed him as governor of Odessa Region in 2015. The friendship did not last long, however, with Saakashvili resigning in November 2016 to create his own political party called ‘Movement of New Forces.’ The governor turned opposition leader accuses the Ukrainian authorities, and Poroshenko in particular, of corruption and “robbing” the country.

Poroshenko personally stripped him of his new citizenship. Since then, the former president of Georgia has organized anti-government rallies in Ukraine, calling for the impeachment of the Ukrainian leader.

His native Georgia is also demanding his extradition on charges of corruption. Kiev has refused to comply with the request, according to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.

Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017. © Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Kiev, Ukraine December 5, 2017. © Gleb Garanich

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