KYIV -- A diverse crowd of about 1,000 people turned out in central Kyiv for a rally in support of a new political movement headed by Mikheil Saakashvili, the reformist former Georgian president who has launched a second political career in Ukraine.
Saakashvili launched the New Forces movement and called for early parliamentary elections, days after he quit his job of governor of the Odesa region on November 7 and accused President Petro Poroshenko of coddling a corrupt elite.
Poroshenko had brought Saakashvili in to govern Odesa as part of an effort to conduct reforms in Ukraine, where entrenched graft and a costly conflict with Russia-backed separatists who hold part of the eastern Donbas region is hobbling progress following the pro-European protests that pushed Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych from power in 2014.
The rally on November 27 brought a mix of young and older people, many waving Ukrainian flags and some holding flags of the European Union -- one of the symbols of the Euromaidan protests.
Saakashvili repeated his call for early elections and promised, ""We will win, we will return Ukraine's wealth to its people and will recover its potential."
He told supporters he knows how to "make Ukraine great...and we will do it together."
Saakashvili vaulted to power in Georgia's peaceful 2003 Rose Revolution and led the country for almost a decade, but his party was defeated by an opposition coalition in 2012 parliamentary vote.
He is now sought in Georgia on criminal charges related to his 2004-2013 presidency that he says are politically motivated.