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Saakashvili Supporters Rally In Tbilisi

Protesters march to support former President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi on December 6.
Protesters march to support former President Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi on December 6.

TBILISI -- Some 3,000 members of the Georgian political party founded by Mikheil Saakashvili have demonstrated in Tbilisi, warning against the former president's extradition from Ukraine.

The demonstrators said their December 6 rally was a signal to the authorities that mass protests will be held if Saakashvili is extradited and arrested in Georgia.

It came as Saakashvili, now an opposition leader in Ukraine, faced a deadline to turn himself in to face criminal charges in Kyiv after being detained on December 5 but sprung from custody by supporters amid dramatic protests a few hours later.

Speaking at a protest camp near the Ukrainian parliament on December 6, Saakashvili said he would not turn himself in.

The Ukrainian charges are unrelated to those Saakashvili faces in Georgia, but members of the opposition United National Movement said at the rally in Tbilisi that they believe he might be extradited.

The United National Movement was ousted in 2012 parliamentary elections, and Saakashvili is wanted in Georgia for alleged involvement in the violent dispersal of protesters and a raid on a private television station during his 2004-13 presidency.

In Ukraine, Saakashvili is accused of receiving financial support from an organized criminal group with links to toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych, who lives in Russia and is being tried in absentia in Kyiv on a treason charge.

Saakashvili rejects the allegations in both countries as politically motivated.

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