Saakashvili supporters free him from police van after detention in Kiev

Saakashvili supporters free him from police van after detention in Kiev

Saakashvili supporters free him from police van after detention in Kiev

The former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has led angry protests on Parliament after his supporters freed him from an attempted arrest by police in Kiev.

It was the police's second unsuccessful attempt to arrest Mr Saakashvili in as many days.

Mr Saakashvili served two terms in his native Georgia before moving to Ukraine in 2013, where he has reinvented himself as a prominent anti-corruption campaigner and opposition political figure.

Mr Saakashvili resigned in 2016, complaining that his efforts to root out corruption were being obstructed by officials.

The van was blocked by protesters for hours.

Mr Poroshenko named Mr Saakashvili as governor of the Odessa region in 2015, but he stepped down the following year after falling out with the president.

After Saakashvili escaped, he told his supporters that he would "lay down his life for the freedom of Ukraine" and called on them to follow him to the Supreme Rada, or parliament. The opposition leader called on the protesters to take to the infamous Maidan Square and topple incumbent Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko and his "gang".

Footage showed Saakashvili with the yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flag around his neck marching in central Kiev, surrounded by crowds.

Ukrainian security forces used tear gas against protesters demanding the release of the former president of Georgia, who was detained earlier on Tuesday.

Mr Saakashvili rejected the accusation, noting the long-running hostility between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He left the country in 2013.

He was first aligned with Poroshenko, but later became an opponent of the Ukrainian president and subsequently lost his citizenship.

The SBU later 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".

Nataliya Vasilyeva is an Associated Press writer.

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