UARU
UPDATED: Ukraine Detains and Jails Mikheil Saakashvili
8 December, 2017

Former Georgian president and ex-Odesa region governor Mikheil Saakashvili has been detained by Ukrainian security agents in Kyiv. The Georgian-Ukrainian politician was taken to the Security Service of Ukraine's headquarters and placed in pre-trial detention.

The Ukrainian authorities accuse Saakashvili, a strident critic of President Petro Poroshenko, of receiving money from Serhiy Kurchenko, a fugitive Ukrainian oligarch close to ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych. Saakashvili denies these charges.

Prosecutors will appeal for Saakashvili to be placed under house arrest and required to wear an electronic bracelet, according to Larysa Sarhan, the Prosecutor General's press secretary.

For his part, Saakashvili has declared a hunger strike, which he plans to continue if the authorities extend his arrest for up to 60 days, his lawyer, Ruslan Chernolutsky, said. 

"The authorities arrested me under false charges. So they want to intimidate you," he said in a handwritten letter to the public published online by Chernolutsky.

Earlier this week, law enforcement attempted to detain Saakashvili, but he was freed after a crowd of his supporters prevented officers from leaving the scene of the detention. Afterwards, prosecutors unsuccessfully demanded that Saakashvili surrender himself to the authorities within 24 hours.

In recent weeks, the charismatic politician has demanded the impeachment of Poroshenko, even leading a march calling for his removal from office. Most recently, he called on Ukrainians to demonstrate on Maidan Square — the site of protests that led to the 2014 Euromaidan revolution — on Sunday, December 10.

When Saakashvili was detained, his Facebook page posted an image calling for his supporters to meet him at the SBU headquarters. After supporters gathered, a localized clash broke out in the crowd.

READ MORE: Saakashvili Wanted By Ukraine's General Prosecutor’s Office

/By Matthew Kupfer