Politics

Georgia’s Hunger-Striking Saakashvili Temporarily Loses Consciousness



Jailed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been on a hunger strike for seven weeks, temporarily lost consciousness, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Beka Basilaia said he was visiting Saakashvili at a prison hospital on November 18 when he fell unconscious and collapsed.

The Penitentiary Service later issued a statement saying Saakashvili was in stable condition.

A day earlier, a medical panel set up by the Public Defender’s Office said that Saakashvili’s health condition was “critical” and recommended he be transferred from a prison hospital to a civilian intensive care unit where he can be properly treated.

The panel said the former president was suffering from kidney and neurological problems. It said his condition was likely to worsen in the “near future,” including the potential for heart failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

The government has refused to transfer Saakashvili from the prison hospital, saying that he is receiving sufficient treatment and his protesting supporters would storm a civilian hospital.

The U.S. State Department said it was closely following Saakashvili’s situation.

“We commend the oversight work of the Georgian Public Defender in establishing an independent medical team to evaluate Mr. Saakashvili’s health and to review the state of medical facilities at the prison hospital,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on November 18. “We urge the government of Georgia to treat Mr. Saakashvili fairly and with dignity, as well as to heed the Public Defender’s recommendations about appropriate treatment.”

Saakashvili was arrested on October 1 when he returned after an eight-year absence to rally the opposition ahead of local elections. He then began a hunger strike.

Saakashvili, who was president from 2004 to 2013, was convicted in absentia in 2018 for abuse of power and seeking to cover up evidence about the beating of an opposition member of parliament.

He says the charges against him are politically motivated. Thousands of his supporters have been protesting his arrest since early October.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Georgian Service and Civil.ge



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