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Ukraine police rearrest ex-Georgian president Saakashvili

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Kiev (AFP)

Ukrainian police on Friday rearrested former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili after a similar attempt to detain the foe of President Petro Poroshenko failed.

Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said the 49-year-old anti-corruption campaigner has been placed under arrest after being charged with trying to stage a coup sponsored by Russia.

Saakashvili, who led Georgia from 2004 to 2013 after a pro-Western revolution, "has been placed in a temporary detention facility," Lutsenko wrote on Facebook.

"We are planning to conduct an investigation and ask the court to set a bail hearing."

A live video feed on Saakashvili's Facebook page showed dozens of his supporters gathered outside a police detention centre shouting "shame".

Saakashvili dramatically made his way out of a security service van on Tuesday after it was swarmed by supporters angered over his arrest.

He has since continued leading protests outside parliament demanding Poroshenko's impeachment over his failure to fight high-level corruption.

Saakashvili denies committing any crimes and calls his actions legal and peaceful.

Tuesday's drama marked the latest chapter in the dizzying career of a man who spearheaded a pro-Western "Rose Revolution" in Georgia in 2003 and fought a disastrous war with Russia five years later that eventually prompted him to flee the small Caucasus country.

Saakashvili seized back the spotlight as a vocal champion of the three-month street uprising in Kiev that toppled a Moscow-backed government in 2014 and turned Ukraine on a pro-EU course.

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

But an ugly falling out between the two saw Saakashvili stripped of his Ukrainian passport -- only for him to defy the authorities and force his way back into the conflict-riven country with the help of supporters in September.

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