It has been a pretty dramatic day in Ukraine. After Ukrainian law enforcement officers turned up to the former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region Mikheil Saakashvili’s apartment this morning and tried to detain him, events took an unexpected turn.
A few hours and some violent clashes later (including one odd rooftop confrontation), hundreds of Saakashvili's supporters, joined by the politician himself, have marched to the parliament calling for the impeachment of President Petro Poroshenko.
Під Радою зібралися прихильники Саакашвілі. Лунають вигуки «Банду геть!» pic.twitter.com/asL8ZTR1ov— Hromadske.UA (@HromadskeUA) December 5, 2017
Photo credit: Inna Sokolovska/UNIAN
The General Prosecutor’s office then announced that they put Saakashvili on the wanted list and asked the police to detain him.
Hromadske breaks down everything that has happened on December 5 so far.
Not a good morning
Around 8 a.m. David Sakvarelidze, the former Odesa region prosecutor and a Saakashvili supporter, wrote on his Facebook page that there had been an attempt to break into Saakashvili’s flat and urged his followers to come to the streets.
Shortly after, clashes erupted between Saakashvili’s supporters who gathered outside the apartment block and law enforcers. Meanwhile Saakashvili, in an apparent attempt to evade arrest, climbed onto the building’s roof. The politician, who was followed around by agents of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), reportedly threatened to jump off the building.
The bizarre confrontation ended in Saakashvili’s brief detention: after having carried the politician to a blue police minivan — the event that has now been well-documented in today’s media coverage — the law enforcers put him inside the car and attempted to drive off. But Saakashvili’s supporters blocked the road, smashed the car’s window and released their leader.
Натовп біля Українського дому стримує авто, у якому правоохоронці намагаються вивезти затриманого Міхеіла Саакашвілі pic.twitter.com/4sELACEot6— Hromadske.UA (@HromadskeUA) December 5, 2017
Freed Saakashvili, together with his supporters, marched across Kyiv’s Independence Square and onto the parliament while chanting for Poroshenko’s impeachment.
In reaction to the events, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko called for Saakashvili to turn up to the SBU office tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.
“I am calling for Saakashvili to show his manly courage,” Lutsenko said at the Ukrainian parliament around 5 p.m. “And turn up to the investigator and obtain the investigation documents in a legal way.”
The spokesman of the General Prosecutor’s office Andriy Lysenko later told Hromadske that Saakashvili has been put on the wanted list.
“The General Prosecutor’s office prepared and handed over the decree on putting Saakashvili, who previously escaped detention, on a wanted list to the Head of the National Police Serhiy Knyazev,” he said.
What is Saakashvili being accused of?
During a press briefing this afternoon, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko announced the official reason behind Saakashvili’s detention: according to him, fugitive oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko — a close ally of ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych — had financed Saakashvili.
Lutsenko claims that Saakashvili took $500,000 from the pro-Russian businessman who is now hiding in Russia.
“Using Kurchenko’s money, Saakashvili carried out protests aimed at seizing the [Ukrainian] government and restoring control over their assets for people close to Yanukovych,” he said.
The Prosecutor General's office also released an audio recording allegedly featuring a phone conversation between Kurchenko and Saakashvili, during which the two men discuss cooperation.
Lawyer Markian Halabala told Hromadske that Saakashvili was detained for “supporting a criminal organization.”
Saakashvili vehemently denies all the accusations. He wrote on his Facebook page that he “barely knows who Kurchenko is.” Earlier, he told a Hromadske journalist, who was at the scene of the clashes, that Lutsenko’s accusations are “absolutely fake.”
According to the press secretary of the National Police Oksana Blyshchyk, nine people were detained in relation to the December 5 events. Some of them were released shortly afterward.
Авто, у якому правоохоронці намагаються вивезти затриманого Міхеіла Саакашвілі, їде прямо крізь натовп pic.twitter.com/bmF87DXt65— Hromadske.UA (@HromadskeUA) December 5, 2017
Blyshchyk also said that she doesn’t know yet about the amount of people who were injured during the clashes.
The Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office has announced that they have started criminal proceedings with regards to the lawmakers who “impeded the job of the law enforcers who were trying to detain Saakashvili.”
The spokesperson of the Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office told Hromadske that these pre-trial investigations will be carried at the SBU headquarters in Kyiv.
This comes just two days after an anti-Poroshenko protest organized by Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces political party. Thousands of protesters marched through Kyiv on December 3 calling for Poroshenko’s impeachment.
Earlier this year, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship while the politician was outside the country. However, in September, Saakashvili managed to re-enter Ukraine when his supporters broke through the border and carried him onto Ukrainian territory.
/By Maria Romanenko, Matthew Kupfer and Sofia Fedeczko