World News

Ukraine authorities to appeal Saakashvili's release

Ukraine authorities to appeal Saakashvili's release

KIEV, Ukraine - Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president turned opposition leader in Ukraine, walked free Monday after a court in the Ukrainian capital refused to sanction his arrest, vowing to push for a peaceful government change.

Thousands of Saakashvili's supporters marched across Kyiv on Sunday, demanding his release and calling for oroshenko to be impeached.

The prosecutor general said last week that Mr Saakashvili had accepted $500,000 from a Ukrainian businessman hiding in Russian Federation who was connected to the Kremlin-leaning former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.

Saakashvili praised the judge's ruling as "courageous", and said, "It means not everything is lost in Ukraine".

"I don't consider myself a detainee, I consider myself a prisoner of war", he told journalists before the court hearing.




Mr Saakashvili rejected the allegations and is refusing food to protest against his detention.

Ukrainian prosecutors allege that Saakashvili cooperated with allies of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, now in hiding in Russia, and took money from the Russians.

He said he was "the person who took Russia's first strike" - a reference to the five-day war in which Russian forces drove deep into Georgia in 2008, during his 2004-13 presidency in the South Caucasus country. He acquired Ukrainian citizenship in May 2015 and was appointed governor of Ukraine's southern Odessa region.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who now heads an opposition party that has also begun to criticize Poroshenko's government, attended the court hearing in a show of support for Saakashvili.

"Look at the Western press, they've gone insane!", he said emotionally."One awful article after another is the shame of Ukraine". Poroshenko this summer rescinded his Ukrainian citizenship while Saakashvili was out of the country, leaving Saakashvili stateless.


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