Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ukraine: Police Clash With Saakashvili Supporters

  • VOA News

Supporters of the Movement of New Forces, the political party led by Mikheil Saakashvili, march to call for Ukraine's President Poroshenko to resign in central Kyiv, Dec. 17, 2017.

Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Ukraine Sunday while trying to storm Kyiv's October Palace following a rally against President Petro Poroshenko.

The crowd, which was dispersed with tear gas fired by police, is the latest in support of opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili, who was released from custody last week after having been detained and accused of trying to stage a Russia-sponsored coup.

No serious injuries were reported from the demonstration, and the situation was relatively calm after nightfall.

"You have to show them that you are brave, but very, very calm," Saakashvili told the crowd Sunday. "I will stand by you to the very end."

Clashes with police outside the cultural center known as the October Palace followed a more peaceful rally earlier in the day to call for the resignation of Poroshenko.

Ukrainian authorities decided last week to release Saakashvili from police custody for the duration of the probe into accusations of abetting an alleged "criminal group" led by former President Viktor Yanukovych — who was pushed from power in 2014 and fled to Russia — and staging protests as part of a Russian plot against Ukraine.

Saakashvili, 49, is also wanted in his native Georgia, where he served as president from 2004 until 2013, for alleged abuse of power.

Saakashvili became a regional governor in Ukraine in 2015 at the invitation of Poroshenko. However, the two men later had a falling out, with Saakashvili accusing the president of corruption and calling for his removal from office.