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Saakashvili Questioned By Ukraine's Security Service


Mikheil Saakashvili

KYIV -- Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili has been questioned by Ukraine's Security Service (SBU), his lawyer says.

Lawyer Ruslan Chornolutskyy said Saakashvili was held at SBU headquarters for four hours on January 10 and was questioned for about 2 1/2 hours of that time.

Saakashvili told journalists the questioning was related to his political activities in Ukraine, where he has become a vocal critic of the government of President Petro Poroshenko.

He vowed to continue his opposition to the current rulers and to press efforts to establish a new government.

"We will destroy Ukraine's current political system and create a normal, democratic, and progressive Ukraine that will be a superpower in Europe," Saakashvili said.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Saakashvili -- the former governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region -- of abetting an alleged “criminal group” led by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster in February 2014.

They also claim that protests led by Saakashvili in Ukraine are part of a Russian plot against the government in Kyiv.

Saakashvili, who is also the former president of Georgia, has strongly denied all the charges.

Ukrainian police on December 5 attempted to arrest Saakashvili, but his supporters crowded around a police vehicle where he was being detained and managed to set him free.

He was again detained three days later, but a judge on December 11 turned down a request by prosecutors to place him under house arrest.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004-13. He lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship and took the post of Odesa governor.

He resigned that position in November 2016, complaining of rampant corruption, and has since becoming an ardent opponent of Poroshenko.

In an interview with Current Time TV, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, Saakashvili said on December 12 that corruption inflicted far greater damage on Ukraine than Russia had.

Saakashvili also faces government anger in Georgia.

On January 5, the Tbilisi City Court found him guilty of abuse of power by allegedly trying to cover up evidence about a 2006 murder case and sentenced him in absentia to three years in prison.

He has also denied those charges and said they are politically motivated as well.

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