Jailed Saakashvili ‘critical’ after being on hunger strike for weeks

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 18, 2021, 05:54 PM(IST)

An attempt to detain Saakashvili earlier in the week failed dramatically when supporters swarmed the van in which he was being held. Photograph:( AFP )

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The government has refused to move him from prison hospital to a civilian clinic against the advice of doctors. They have further warned of the risk to Saakashvili's life

Georgia's ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili has been on a hunger strike for weeks and is now in critical condition. The opposition leader is in jail and thus lacks proper care.

The government has refused to move him from prison hospital to a civilian clinic against the advice of doctors. They have further warned of the risk to Saakashvili's life.

A council of medics has said that his "current status is assessed as critical" and that he faced a risk of fatal complications in the "immediate future".

The pro-Western reformer president from 2004-2013 was arrested on October 1 on his return from exile in Ukraine. He then refused food for 37 days to protest his imprisonment, which he says is politically motivated.

The jailing of the country's foremost opposition leader fuelled a protracted political crisis that gripped Georgia last year after the opposition denounced fraud in parliamentary elections won narrowly by the ruling Georgian Dream party.

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The US State Department has urged the Georgian government to "treat Mr Saakashvili fairly and with dignity". Also, several opposition lawmakers have been on hunger strike for days, demanding proper medical care for Saakashvili.

Georgia must take steps "to inform the Court about the applicant's current state of health, to ensure his safety in prison, and to provide him with appropriate medical care for the post-hunger-strike recovery period," the European Court of Human Rights said last week. It also urged Saakashvili to "call off his hunger strike."

Thousands in Georgia rallied to show support for country's jailed ex-president amid growing fears over his health.

The protesters waved Georgian flags and chanted Saakashvili's name. The protests were carried out outside the prison in Rustavi city. 

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One of the demonstrators, actor Bachi Valishvili, 26, said: "The Georgian government is leading us into an abyss of tyranny. We demand our democracy back."

"We demand Georgia's third president be transferred to a proper clinic and treated adequately, so that his life is saved," he added.

With inputs from agencies

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