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Georgia | Imprisoned ex-President Saakashvili ‘at risk of dying’, say his doctors



(Tbilisi) Imprisoned Georgian opponent and ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is serving a prison sentence in hospital, “risks dying” due to severe weight loss, his doctors and lawyers warned on Friday.

The 55-year-old ex-leader was taken to hospital last year after an initial 50-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment for “abuse of power”, which human rights NGOs rights had denounced as politically motivated.

“Saakashvili’s weight has dropped from 115 to 68 kilos” since his arrest in October 2021, his lawyer Dito Sadzaglichvili told AFP, stressing: “It is weight loss that threatens his life”.


According to Dr. Mariam Jichkariani, who examined the former president, Mr. “Saakashvili suffers from cachexia”, a state of extreme weakness and weight loss linked to malnutrition.

“In the absence of a proper diagnosis of his condition and adequate medical assistance, he is at risk of dying,” she told AFP.

For his part, the Georgian Minister of Justice, Rati Bregadze, insisted that Mr. Saakashvili benefited from all the necessary care.

“This man is hurting himself” by refusing to eat normally, he said, accusing the ex-president of pursuing “a simple objective of obtaining his release”.

Words that have been described as a “cynical lie” by Dito Sadzaglichvili.

Mikheil “Saakashvili does not reject food, he cannot eat,” he assured.

Mr. Saakacvhili ruled Georgia, the former Soviet republic of the Caucasus, from 2004 to 2013, before going into exile for eight years.

During his exile, Mr. Saakashvili notably lived in Ukraine, a country whose nationality he obtained and where he held political responsibilities.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Georgian authorities of “slowly killing” Mr Saakashvili.


Volodymyr Zelenskyy holding two photos of Mikheil Saakashvili.

“I call on the world to help save Mikheil’s life and prevent his execution,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Council of Europe had called last year for Mr. Saakashvili’s release and said it considered him a “political prisoner”. The NGO Amnesty International described the treatment reserved for Mr. Saakashvili as “apparent political revenge”.

Returning to Georgia illegally before local elections in early October 2021, Mikheil Saakashvili was immediately arrested to serve a six-year prison sentence for “abuse of power”, pronounced in absentia in 2018.

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