Protesters Disrupt Kyiv Court As It Imposes Curfew On Saakashvili

KYIV -- Protesters have disrupted a crowded Kyiv courtroom as it imposed a curfew on Ukrainian opposition figure Mikheil Saakashvili by placing him under house arrest every night from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Cries of "Shame! Shame!" rang out during the pronouncement of the ruling by the Kyiv City Court of Appeals on January 26, which came after the Prosecutor-General's appeal against the Pechera District Court's refusal to place the former Georgian president and ex-governor of Ukraine's Odesa region under house arrest in December.

"This is not a court! These are corrupt beasts!" Saakashvili shouted as the ruling was read out, walking toward the judges and pointing his finger at them. "What they have just declared is an attempt to restrain my political activity!"

Ukrainian authorities have accused Saakashvili of abetting an alleged "criminal group" led by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia after his ouster in February 2014.

They also claim that protests led by Saakashvili in Ukraine are part of a Russian plot against the government in Kyiv.

Saakashvili, who has strongly denied all the charges, said in the court that, while the ruling keeps him from visiting other regions of the country, antigovernment protests and marches should continue.

“We will continue marching,” he said to cheers from his supporters inside the court.

Ukrainian police on December 5 attempted to arrest Saakashvili, but his supporters surrounded the police van where he had been kept and managed to set him free.

He was again detained three days later, but a judge on December 11 turned down a request by prosecutors to place him under house arrest.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013. He lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship and took the post of Odesa governor.

He resigned that position in November 2016, complaining of rampant corruption, and has since become an ardent opponent of Poroshenko.

In an interview with Current Time TV, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, Saakashvili said on December 12 that corruption inflicted far greater damage on Ukraine than Russia had.

Saakashvili also faces government anger in Georgia. On January 5, the Tbilisi City Court found him guilty of abuse of power by allegedly trying to cover up evidence about a 2006 murder case and sentenced him in absentia to three years in prison.He has also denied those charges and said they were politically motivated as well.