Saakashvili re­fuses to hand him­self in

The Dominion Post - - World -

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

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