11 Dec 2017 20:43

Saakashvili supporters rallying near Kyiv's Pecherskyi District Court

KYIV. Dec 11 (Interfax) - The situation near the building of the Pecherskyi District Court in downtown Kyiv, where a hearing is being held to impose a restrictive measure on Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the Movement of New Forces party and former Georgian president, and where his supporters are holding a rally, is calm.

About 150 supporters of Saakashvili were standing on Khreshchatyk Street, where the building of the court is located, as of 5:15 p.m. on Monday, an Interfax correspondent reported. Many of them carried collapsible fishing rods with flags of Ukraine and several non-governmental organizations and civil unions attached to them. There are also several flags of the Right Sector movement (banned in Russia) visible in the crowd. Some people gathered for the rally carried hand-made banners with various slogans and calls.

The politician's followers are shouting chants in support of Saakashvili and calls urging authorities and the court to release him and cease his prosecution.

Approaches to the court building have been cordoned off by law enforcement officers wearing protective clothing. About 100 officers in total are present near the building of the court.

Some 15 Ukrainian police buses are also parked near the court, with part of them currently empty and the rest occupied by policemen. Additionally, about 20 police cars can be seen in the area of the court.

The situation at the mass rally and near the court is currently calm, with no violations of public order or vigorous actions seen from either of the sides.

As reported, on December 5, Saakashvili was detained, after which his supporters blocked the police car with him and freed him from it. The politician was declared wanted.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said that Saakashvili had received $0.5 million for his activities in Ukraine from businessman Serhiy Kurchenko, who is currently hiding in Russia, and presented an audio recording in support of his claim. Saakashvili said he does not know Kurchenko. Saakashvili supporter David Sakvarelidze said that the published recordings have been doctored and he was planning to submit them for an expert evaluation abroad.

Saakashvili was detained the second time in the late in the evening on Friday, December 8. He is charged with aiding and abetting members of criminal groups and concealing their criminal activities and is facing from five to ten years of imprisonment. Following his detention he was brought to a remand prison of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in Kyiv, where he went on a hunger strike.

On Monday morning, Saakashvili was brought to the building of Kyiv's Pecherskyi District Court. The prosecution said at the hearing that it insists on his full-time house arrest for two months. The 72-hour period since his detention is expiring in the evening of December 11, and in accordance to legislation, a restrictive measure should be imposed on the politician during it.