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Saakashvili Says Ukrainian Government Must Meet Protesters' Demands


Hundreds of protesters have joined a rally organized outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv by the Movement of New Forces, the political party led by Mikheil Saakashvili.

Addressing the October 29 demonstration, the former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine's Odesa region called on the Ukrainian government to meet the protesters' demands by November 7.

"[November] 7 will honestly be the last chance that we give [to the government] to accept our demands. We suspect that they won't accept them," Saakashvili said.

"We cannot keep standing here forever," he added. "We cannot keep freezing here forever."

Protesters set up tents outside the Verkhovna Rada building on October 17, calling for the cancellation of parliamentarian immunity, the creation of an anticorruption court, amendments to election laws, and legislation on impeachment of the president.

At least 10 people were arrested after police used tear gas against demonstrators on October 18.

On October 19, the protesters notched a small victory as parliament sent a bill on lifting lawmakers' immunity from prosecution to the Constitutional Court for review.

The protests were initially called by Saakashvili, a onetime ally of President Petro Poroshenko, but many of Ukraine's opposition political leaders have also joined the protests.

In 2015, Saakashvili was appointed by Poroshenko to be governor of the Odesa region and surrendered his Georgian citizenship in order to take the post.

However, Saakashvili resigned in November 2016, saying that his reform efforts had been blocked by Poroshenko's allies.

The former Georgian president was then stripped of Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko in June 2017 in a move he is currently challenging in court.

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