Georgians gather to support the imprisoned ex-president on hunger strike

Georgians gather to support the imprisoned ex-president on hunger strike

Tbilisi — Several thousand rallied in the Georgian capital on Monday, demanding that the authorities in the former Soviet country transfer the imprisoned ex-president to a civilian hospital amid reports of his health deteriorating after weeks of a hunger strike.

Mikhail Saakashvili, 53, announced his hunger strike shortly after his arrest last month and has been refusing food for 46 days. His doctors say his health is rapidly deteriorating, and his lawyers say Saakashvili Prison Hospital has been moved to a hospital that lacks security and equipment.

Saakashvili’s supporters are organizing daily rallies to demand his removal from the prison hospital. The Georgia Prison Service said Monday that Saakashvili’s life is not in danger.

Large crowds marched in central Tbilisi on Monday, urging the government to give Saakashvili proper medical treatment.

Ten members of parliament also went on a hunger strike, demanding that Saakashvili be transferred to a civilian hospital.

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“We are not asking to feed Misha (Saakashvili), we are not asking for any political demands, we are just asking that the third president of Georgia not be killed and give him the appropriate treatment, which is given to any other prisoner in this country,” said Eileen Khachtari, head of the civil movement Darwa who has been refusing food for 13 years. a day.

Saakashvili was arrested on 1 October upon his return to Georgia after nearly eight years in exile. The divisive former president is back to rally the opposition ahead of Georgia’s municipal elections. Members of the ruling Georgian Dream party swept the elections, but the opposition alleged fraud.

Saakashvili, who was president from 2004 to 2013, left Georgia in 2013 after his term expired due to term restrictions. He was subsequently stripped of his citizenship and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison for abuse of power. Saakashvili says the accusations are politically motivated.

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