Saturday 20th November 2021
Georgia’s ex-president in clinic
Saakashvili wants to end hunger strike
At the beginning of October, Mikhail Saakashvili returned to Georgia from exile. The country’s former president calls for protests and ends up behind bars. After seven weeks on hunger strike, the politician is now being transferred to a military hospital. A medical team speaks of a critical condition.
After seven weeks on hunger strike, the imprisoned Georgian ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili has been transferred to a military hospital. Georgian TV channels reported that the 53-year-old had been taken to the clinic in the city of Gori 70 kilometers northwest of the capital Tbilisi. One of his lawyers therefore confirmed this. Another lawyer for the politician said that Saakashvili now wants to end his hunger strike and eat again. The Ministry of Justice had previously proposed a move. President Salome Zurabishvili welcomed this: “This decision is fully in line with the demands of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.”
Recently there had been different statements about the health of the ex-president. A medical team commissioned by the Georgian ombudswoman Nino Lomjaria spoke of a critical condition. Doctors at a prison near Tbilisi rejected this. Saakashvili’s supporters repeatedly called for the hospital to be transferred to a civilian hospital, but the government refused. He had been treated in a prison clinic for more than ten days.
Saakashvili was president of the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, which borders on Russia, from 2004 to 2013. Among other things, he pushed through pro-Western reforms in the country on the Black Sea. After being voted out of office, he was sentenced in absentia to several terms in prison for corruption and incitement to assault.
The 53-year-old last lived in Ukraine. He returned to his homeland shortly before the Georgian local elections in early October and was arrested. He went on a hunger strike shortly afterwards. He sees himself as a political prisoner. In the past few weeks, his supporters had repeatedly taken to the streets to protest against the prison conditions, including on Friday. He is now threatened with a new trial for illegally crossing the border after entering the country a few weeks ago. Saakashvili founded the opposition party United National Movement.