Former president Mikheil Saakashvili held over coup claim

A hearing of the case of Mikheil Saakashvili, the leader of the Movement of New Forces party, is scheduled for 11.00 on Monday, December 11, his spokeswoman, Mariana Poshtar, has told Ukrinform.

Earlier on Monday, the state prosecutor asked the court to place Saakashvili under house arrest until he goes on trial.

Saakashvili is under investigation for alleged cooperation with Russia-linked "criminal groups" and has denounced his prosecution as an attempt to remove him from public activities.

Saakashvili, 49, who entered Ukrainian politics after serving as president of Georgia, was arrested last week in Kiev, accused of trying to stage a coup sponsored by Russian Federation.

Saakashvili was the key figure of the 2003 Rose Revolution protests that forced Eduard Shevardnadze to resign the presidency.

Saakashvili rejected the allegations, and his lawyer said he was refusing food to protest his detention.

Saakashvili faces the prospect of being sent back to his native Georgia, which has sought him on abuse of office charges. Saakashvili was elected the next year to replace him.

Poroshenko named him the governor of Ukraine's Odessa region in 2015, but Saakashvili resigned the following year, claiming that Poroshenko and other officials were impeding anti-corruption reforms and becoming a strong critic of his former patron.

He was later stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, becoming stateless as he had lost his Georgian citizenship to gain the Ukrainian one.

Ukrainian prosecutors allege that Saakashvili cooperated with allies of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, now in hiding in Russia, and took money from the Russians. He announced hunger strike protesting against his detention. But police have not moved to disperse it, possibly concerned that such action would only inflame tensions.

  • Jon Douglas