Saakashvili refuses to hand himself in
UKRAINE: The former president of Georgia defied demands to give himself up yesterday after he was accused of plotting a coup in Ukraine.
Mikheil Saakashvili told reporters in Kiev that he would not turn himself in to the authorities, a day after a crowd of supporters freed him from a police van in the Ukrainian capital.
Saakashvili, 49, was president of Georgia from 2003 to 2013. Famous as a reformer, he was appointed by President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine as governor of the country’s Odessa region in 2015 but fell out with his mentor and resigned last year.
He was briefly detained on Wednesday on suspicion of being an accomplice to a criminal gang linked to Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian leader, who allegedly wanted to overthrow the government.
Saakashvili says he is being targeted for accusing Poroshenko of corruption, and has called for him to be impeached.
Yesterday he said he would talk to investigators if they came to a tent camp in the capital, Kiev, run by people who back him. He was still free yesterday after several appearances in the city.
Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutorgeneral, claimed that Saakashvili and ‘‘a group of fighters’’ had escaped and seized a parliamentary committee office in the city, where they ‘‘rested’’. He said police and security services were working to detain Saakashvili. ‘‘We are patient,’’ he said. ‘‘However much the rope gets twisted, it still leads to the investigator.’’ Officers wanted to be ‘‘as gentle as possible with other citizens’’, he added.
The 12 officers transporting Saakashvili before he escaped were veterans of the war in eastern Ukraine, but had decided not to fire on the crowds who freed him, Lutsenko said. – The Times