Former Georgian president and Ukrainian politician Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested early on Dec. 5 after law enforcers broke into his apartment in Kyiv’s downtown.
Ukraine’s SBU state security service said in a report on its website that its officers, together with representatives of the Prosecutor General’s office, detained Saakashvili in connection with a criminal investigation into his allegedly “helping members of criminal organizations and covering up their criminal activity.”
A conviction for such a crime carries a sentence of from three to five years in prison.
Supporters of Saakashvili clashed with the police near Saakashvili’s residence on Kostolna Street, trying to prevent him being taken away, a Kyiv Post correspondent on the spot said.
Ex-President of Georgia, former Odesa Oblast governor and leader of the Movement of New Forces Mikheil Saakashvili stands on the roof of the eight-story apartment building where he lives while the SBU searched his apartment.
According to the Kyiv Post correspondent, law enforcement officers took Saakashvili from his apartment to the street and put him in a blue van. However, protesters prevented the police from driving Saakashvili away by blocking Triokhsviatitelska Street.
One supporter even threatened to burn himself alive, the Ukrainska Pravda website reported.
Saakashvili, who was the governor of Odesa southern Ukrainian Oblast in 2015-2016, has since become one of the most vehement critics of President Petro Poroshenko.
On Dec. 3, he led thousands in a rally in central Kyiv calling for Poroshenko’s impeachment.
Saakashvili’s supporters said the attempt to arrest the controversial politician was political revenge of the type also used by Poroshenko’s predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych imprisoned his main political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011.