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09 December 2017, 10:39 | Floyd Cook
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Dozens of Ukrainian police in riot gear raided a protest camp outside parliament on Wednesday in a failed attempt to detain former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, who was freed from custody by supporters a day earlier, Reuters reported.
The arrest boosted rising tensions in a country that has already been shaken by massive protest uprisings twice in this century.
"Mikheil Saakashvili won yesterday, and he won not when the Ukrainian people released him from the police minivan, but when he was arrested".
Saakashvili became a regional governor in Ukraine in 2015 at Poroshenko's invitation but they later fell out.
But he stepped down in 2016, complaining that Poroshenko himself had undermined his efforts.
Ukrainian authorities this week have faced accusations of deliberately sabotaging anti-corruption reforms, which are a key condition for worldwide support for the country as it grapples with a Russian-backed separatist insurgency.
The saga threatens to embarrass the pro-Western leadership in Kiev, although Saakashvili's party, which is now seeking to unseat Poroshenko at the ballot box, does not have nationwide support, opinion polls show. The 49-year-old is facing the threat of possible extradition to Georgia, where he is wanted on criminal charges he says were trumped up for political reasons. He climbed out on the roof and threatened to jump, but police grabbed him and took him to a van.
Saakashvili rejects the allegations, pointing to his long record of opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But supporters blocked the streets and pulled him from the vehicle, and he led a march to parliament.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said this during a joint meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Vilnius on Friday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
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