Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announces new hunger strike in prison

Mikheil Saakashvili asks to receive “adequate medical care” in prison. The former president of Georgia, now leader of the opposition, announced Monday, February 21 before a court in Tbilisi, that he was starting a new hunger strike to protest against his conditions of imprisonment.

Mr. Saakashvili, who led this Caucasian country from 2004 to 2013, was arrested and then imprisoned in October to serve a sentence for abuse of power which he describes as political. He had led a first hunger strike to denounce his imprisonment, had ended it fifty days later, on November 20, after being transferred to a military hospital for treatment.

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Political crisis

The 54-year-old ex-leader, however, was returned to prison on December 30, despite the concern of those around him who say he is very unwell. An independent board of doctors announced in December that the former president still suffered from serious neurological disorders, which they said were the result of ill-treatment suffered in detention.

It was precisely to receive neurological care that Saakashvili announced his new hunger strike on Monday, as well as to denounce the authorities’ decision to prevent his personal doctor from visiting him in prison.

Mr Saakashvili’s arrest has exacerbated a political crisis following the 2020 parliamentary elections, narrowly won by the ruling Georgian Dream party and which the opposition has deemed fraudulent.

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A pro-Western president for nine years, now considered the leader of the opposition, Mr. Saakashvili returned to Georgia on 1er October after an eight-year exile and was immediately arrested.

Human rights defenders accuse the Georgian government of using criminal prosecutions to punish political opponents.

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The World with AFP

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