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Ukrainian court rules to free Saakashvili

12 December 2017

"I'm not afraid. I consider myself a prisoner of the Ukrainian oligarchy", Interfax cited Saakashvili as saying.

According to him, the whole world community is watching this process.

Supported by a number of Ukrainian lawmakers in the courtroom and several hundred protesters gathered outside the court, Saakashvili called the trial "a shame" of current authorities that has inspired critical media coverage.

Saakashvili's lawyer and supporters said on December 9 that the opposition leader had declared a hunger strike to protest his arrest.

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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.

Saakashvili, the 49-year-old leader of Ukraine's Movement of New Forces opposition party, was arrested on December 9 in a Kiev apartment on charges, including a cooperation with a criminal organisation.

Poroshenko named him the governor of Ukraine's Odesa region in 2015, but Saakashvili resigned the following year, claiming that Poroshenko and other officials were impeding anti-corruption reforms, and became a strong critic of his former patron. He was marched home by cheering supporters following the December 11 decision.

Saakashvili rose to power in Georgia during the 2003 Rose Revolution that drove then President Eduard Shevardnadze from office. He served two terms as Georgian president in 2004-2013, winning broad acclaim for his anti-corruption efforts, but drawing criticism over a disastrous war with Russian Federation and what his opponents saw as an authoritarian streak.

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Saakashvili was earlier stripped of Ukraine's citizenship, but he managed to illegally enter the country. "One awful article after another is the shame of Ukraine".

"What was important was that we did not bow our heads and showed no fear, we did not let them scare others", Mikheil Saakashvili said in his remarks after the court hearing.

"Putin is winning, he is laughing, he is roaring with laughter", Saakashvili said, ridiculing the concept that he and Russian authorities could possibly be plotting together.

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Ukrainian court rules to free Saakashvili