Ukrainian police recapture former Georgian leader Saakashvili

Ukrainian police recapture former Georgian leader Saakashvili
Police officers stand guard near a temporary detention facility where Georgian former President Mikheil Saakashvili was escorted after being detained in Kiev, Ukraine December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s general prosecutor said on Friday police had recaptured the former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who was freed from police custody by his supporters in dramatic scenes earlier this week.

The development is the latest twist in a long feud between the Ukrainian authorities and Saakashvili, who has turned on his one-time patron President Petro Poroshenko, accusing him of corruption and calling for his removal from office.

General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, who says Saakashvili is suspected of assisting a criminal organisation, said the opposition leader had been detained by police in Kiev and was in a temporary detention facility.

“As promised, security officers did everything to avoid extreme violence and bloodshed,” he said in a post on Facebook.

Saakashvili’s recapture follows a surreal game of hide-and-seek that saw him clamber on a roof to avoid law enforcement, before being broken out of a police van by protesters amid clashes with hundreds of riot police on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear how his supporters would respond to his recapture on Friday.

A statement posted on his official Facebook page called for a protest at the detention centre.

“Urgent. They have detained Mikheil Saakashvili,” it said.

Television footage showed a large number of police in riot gear outside the centre and a few dozen protesters, but the situation appeared relatively calm.

Saakashvili became a regional governor in Ukraine in 2015 at Poroshenko’s invitation but they later fell out. Saakashvili denies the allegations against him.

(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice and Natalia Zinets; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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