Latest: Protesters clash with police amid bid to arrest ex-Georgia president Saakashvili

Update: 1.30pm Supporters of Ukraine's top opposition politician have clashed with police trying to arrest him for a second time at a tent camp outside the parliament building in Kiev.

Ukrainian authorities accuse Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's former president and now an anti-corruption crusader in Ukraine, of colluding with Ukrainian businessmen to topple President Petro Poroshenko.

Mr Saakashvili said he will not turn himself in, though prosecutors were welcome to see him at the camp outside the Supreme Rada, where about 100 supporters gathered.

"I'm ready to host their investigators here at the camp," he said.

"From the very beginning they refused to register my party, then stripped me of my citizenship, then lied. Shame on you."

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

On Tuesday, police detained him at his home, but he escaped with help from crowds who had gathered to protest.

Protester Igor Ognyov, from the eastern city of Sumy, said police stormed the camp before dawn on Wednesday.

"They burst into the tent and started beating everyone with their hands and batons," said Mr Ognyov, whose head was bandaged and his face covered with blood.

Two protesters and 11 officers were injured in Wednesday's scuffles in Kiev, police said.

The efforts to detain Mr Saakashvili have raised fears that Ukraine could be facing its most acute political crisis since the 2014 revolution.

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.

Earlier this year, Mr Poroshenko stripped Mr Saakashvili of Ukrainian citizenship while he was out of the country, but the former Georgian president returned in September, helped by supporters.

Mr Saakashvili has won broad popularity in Ukraine with his fiery campaign against official corruption, riding a wave of public frustration over Mr Poroshenko's failure to uproot endemic graft.

He has staged a series of rallies calling for the president's resignation, but they have not produced any visible impact.

Prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko said his office has evidence that Mr Saakashvili's representative received 500,000 dollars (£374,000) to finance protests from Ukrainian businessmen with ties to Russia.

Mr Saakashvili rejected the accusations and said there has long been hostility between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier: Georgian ex-leader Saakashvili refuses to hand himself in over Ukraine protest

Georgia’s former president, who has become Ukraine’s top opposition politician, has said he will not surrender to authorities after prosecutors issued an ultimatum.

Authorities tried to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili at his home in the capital, Kiev, on Tuesday but he escaped with help from supporters.

Mr Saakashvili and his backers camped out outside parliament, demanding the resignation of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Prosecutors gave him 24 hours to turn himself in.

Mr Saakashvili addressed the crowd outside parliament, called the Supreme Rada, on Wednesday, saying that prosecutors are welcome to see him there but he will not turn himself in.

Police officers and prosecutors went to the tent camp early in the morning to look for him but were met with resistance from protesters, Kiev police said. Two protesters and 11 police officers were injured in a scuffle, they added.

There were about 100 protesters outside the Supreme Rada late on Wednesday morning.

The detention of Mr Saakashvili, now an anti-corruption crusader in his adopted home and arguably the country’s most popular opposition politician, has raised fears that Ukraine could be facing its most acute political crisis since the 2014 revolution.

Mr Saakashvili has won broad popularity in Ukraine with his fiery campaign against official corruption, riding a wave of public frustration over Mr Poroshenko’s failure to tackle it. He has staged a series of rallies calling for the president’s resignation, but they have not produced any visible impact.

Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko claimed on television that his office has evidence that Mr Saakashvili’s representative received 500,000 US dollars from Ukrainian businessmen who have ties to Russia to finance the protests.

AP


 

Join the conversation - comment here

House Rules for comments - FAQ - Important message for commenters


Most Read in World