– Former President Saakashvili has formally ended the hunger strike after he was transferred to the Gori military hospital about 90 kilometers west of the capital Tbilisi in a life-threatening condition, where he is admitted to the intensive care unit, his doctor Nikoloz Kipsjidze said Saturday night.
Saakashvili was president from 2004 to 2013. He was arrested on October 1 when he returned to Georgia from exile in Ukraine. He believes the imprisonment is politically motivated and therefore initiated a hunger strike in protest.
Saakashvili is the founder of Georgia’s main opposition party. In 2018, he was sentenced to six years in prison in absentia for abuse of power while he was president. He has denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
The imprisonment of Saakashvili has led to demonstrations demanding that Saakashvili be released.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili caused a stir when he said that Saakashvili, after starting the hunger strike, “has the right to commit suicide” and that the government had been forced to arrest Saakashvili for refusing to let go of politics.
On Thursday, 53-year-old Saakashvili fainted. Doctors urged the authorities to transfer him to a civilian hospital. His life is in danger, they argued.
Authorities initially rejected the medical recommendations, but on Friday, Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said they were open to transferring Saakashvili to a military hospital, “where his health and safety will be best protected by the state.”
The transfer from prison hospital to military hospital took place early Saturday night, lawyer Dito Sadzaglishvili confirms to the news agency AFP.
On Friday night, Saakashvili said he would end the hunger strike as soon as he was transferred.
Ask people to fight
“I will never accept my illegal imprisonment,” he wrote on Facebook. He added that he was ready to stand in a fair trial and accept any verdict that may come.
The United States has called on the Georgian authorities to treat Saakashvili fairly and with dignity, and to uphold his right to a fair trial.
– As soon as I am released, I will join you, as an equal among equals, and rebuild our country, the ex-president writes.
He thanks his supporters for solidarity and support, and urges people to “liberate the country” from the regime under the country’s richest man Bidzina Ivanishvili, who leads the ruling party.
– I have faith in our victory like never before, writes Saakasjvili.