Saakashvili Freed, Marched Home By Supporters

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Ukrainian authorities say Saakashvili is suspected of abetting an alleged "criminal group" led by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russian Federation after his ouster in February 2014.

Saakashvili was detained late on December 8, after an initial attempt to place him in custody failed on December 5 when supporters crowded around a police vehicle where he was being held after a raid on his apartment and freed him.

"I consider myself a prisoner of Ukrainian oligarchs", he said in an apparent reference to the business background of Poroshenko, who ran a chocolate business before he was elected president. Prosecutors allege that Saakashvili cooperated with allies of former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, now in hiding in Russia, and took money from the Russians.

Poroshenko rewarded Saakashvili for his efforts by appointing him governor of the important Black Sea region of Odessa in 2015.

Inside the courthouse Saakashvili called on his followers to remain calm, saying "we don't want confrontation, we don't want any sharp moves".

On Sunday, thousands of Mr Saakashvili's supporters marched across Kiev, demanding his release and calling for Mr Poroshenko to be impeached.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is also an opposition leader, was in the courthouse and likened Poroshenko to Yanukovych.

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Saakashvili rose to power in Georgia during the 2003 Rose Revolution that drove then President Eduard Shevardnadze from office.

The 49-year-old politician served two terms as Georgia's president from 2004 to 2013.

Georgia stripped Saakashvili of his citizenship after his move to Ukraine.

"Look at the Western press, they gone insane!" he said emotionally.

The victorious Saakashvili said after the verdict that he will co-ordinate with other political forces in Ukraine to push for a peaceful change of government.

"Putin is winning, he is laughing, he is roaring with laughter", Saakashvili said, ridiculing the concept that he and Russian authorities could possibly be plotting together.

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