The US Department of State issued an official statement late on December 5 regarding the attempted arrest of Georgia’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili in Kyiv yesterday.
Saakashvili was arrested by Ukrainian authorities at the building of his flat. He is being charged with providing support for a criminal group and covering up crimes, and faces 3 to 5 years in prison if found guilty. Following his arrest, hundreds of Saakashvili’s supporters then blocked the police car carrying Saakashvili and managed the free the politician from police custody. Saakashvili then called his supporters to rally in front of parliament demanding the impeachment of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
In its statement the US called on both sides to avoid any forms of violence and urged the Ukrainian government to respect the rule of law.
The statement reads as follows:
"Overall, we are closely monitoring that situation, and what happened in Kyiv. We are in close contact with and we have a good relationship with the government of Ukraine that does not mean that we agree with them on absolutely on everything, however.
We would urge the authorities in Ukraine to de-escalate that situation, we have certainly seen reports of various activities in the streets there, we would call on all sides to avoid violence, and follow the rule of law and their international commitments as well.
The details of the case we just can’t get into. I would have to refer you to the government of Ukraine on that. But the government of Ukraine and we have said this many times before, as we do with other governments, If they are detaining someone, arresting someone etc.
it needs to be in accordance with the laws and regulations of that country as well as international human rights obligations and we urge Ukraine to respect the rule of law."
Later that day of Saakashvili’s attempted arrest, the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine accused Saakashvili of organizing his demonstrations in Ukraine with the help of Russian money, and released secret audio recordings allegedly demonstrating his collaboration with Russia.
Russian politician and the leader of the LDPR party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky issued an official statement saying that “Saakashvili should have the opportunity to leave peacefully in Ukraine and participate in social-political life. We should treat Saakashvili with respect as he still has the status - Former President of Georgia. We are all compatriots. Our common homeland is USSR.”
Saakashvili became a Ukrainian citizen in 2015, when he became the governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region. He resigned from the post one year ago and went into opposition against Ukrainian President Poroshenko. Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by President Poroshenko in July 2017, making him a stateless person and is officially not allowed to return to Ukraine. In September 2017 he re-entered the country by breaking through a police cordon at a crossing point with Poland together with his supporters.
Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship by the Georgian authorities in December 2015. In 2014, he was charged in absentia in Georgia with abuse of power and embezzlement related to his time in office as president. He has denied the claims and alleges they are politically motivated.