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Saakashvili Lawyers, Supporters Say No Word Yet On Court Hearing As Protests Continue


KYIV -- Lawyers and supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili say his team has had no word on when a hearing will be held for the jailed Ukrainian opposition leader, less than 24 hours before an apparent deadline for the court to decide on pretrial restrictions.

The remarks late on December 10 came after some 2,500 demonstrators in the center of the Ukrainian capital protested to demand the release of Saakashvili and to call for the impeachment or resignation of President Petro Poroshenko.

Saakashvili ally David Sakvarelidze said late on December 10 that "the term for Saakashvili's detention” expires at 10 p.m. in Ukraine on December 11.

“So far, we have received no official information about the court session,” Sakvarelidze wrote on his Facebook page.

WATCH: Activists gather outside detention center where Saakashvili is being held

“They seem to be plotting a surprise. The announcement could come some three hours before the hearing is about to begin,” he added.

Saakashvili denies all charges.

Earlier, demonstrators marched through central Kyiv toward Independence Square -- the site of the monthslong 2013-14 protests that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Saakashvili, the former governor of Ukraine's Odesa region, was detained by Ukrainian authorities on December 8 on charges of abetting an alleged "criminal group" led by Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster.

Saakashvili's wife, Sandra Roelofs, said at the rally that "the authorities have crossed a red line -- you don't put opponents in prison."

Roelofs said demonstrators need to show the Ukrainian president that “politics is not business and people are not merchandise,” a reference to the business background of Poroshenko, who ran a chocolate business before he was elected.

Meanwhile, Yehor Sobolev, an ally of Saakashvili’s who was removed on December 7 as chairman of a parliamentary anticorruption committee by Poroshenko’s faction and its allies, called for Poroshenko’s dismissal.

"Impeachment is a way to move from kleptocracy to democracy," Sobolev told the rally.

Ukrainian officials have suggested that Saakashvili’s protests are part of a Russian plot against Ukraine.

Mikheil Saakashvili spoke to his supporters as they camped out outside parliament in Kyiv on December 6.
Mikheil Saakashvili spoke to his supporters as they camped out outside parliament in Kyiv on December 6.

Saakashvili, who is also the former president of Georgia, became governor of Ukraine's Odesa region in 2015 but quit a year later and is now a vocal opponent of Poroshenko.

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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