The health of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, on a hunger strike since his detention on October 1, has deteriorated, his personal doctor Nikoloz Kipshidze told Georgian media late on October 10.
“He has difficulty moving, and it is hard for him to speak,” said doctor Nikoloz Kipshidze, noting Saakashvili’s condition has worsened significantly over the past days. According to the doctor, Saakashvili has a rare blood disorder – thalassemia, which exacerbates his condition.
Noting that thalassemia is not usually life-threatening, the doctor stressed “no one should go on a hunger [strike] with this disease.” This causes irreversible changes in the body, he added.
The Special Penitentiary Service denied the reports, arguing “Saakashvili’s condition is satisfactory at this time.” According to the Service, the ex-President is taking his prescribed medications and is constantly monitored by medical staff.
Following the reports on deteriorating health, United National Movement leaders, as well as Saakashvili’s supporters, rallied outside the Rustavi N12 Prison where the ex-President is currently held. The United National Movement also plans to rally on October 14 on Freedom Square in downtown Tbilisi, to demand Saakashvili’s release.
Earlier on October 10, MP Tako Charkviani, leader of the Law and Justice party, organized a protest – independently from the UNM – in front of the Parliament Building demanding the jailed ex-President’s release. Also, several small protests by the Georgian diaspora were held in cities across Europe and the U.S. in support of Saakashvili.
After visiting Saakashvili in Rustavi prison, one of his attorneys – Nika Gvaramia, also the director of Mtavari Arkhi TV – said the former President was “outraged” that information on his health was being published without his consent.
Gvaramia said the former President’s health condition is satisfactory, adding he couldn’t notice any “significant changes.” According to Gvaramia, Saakashvili is continuing with the hunger strike.
He also shared an address by Saakashvili in which the former President said the key focus now should be winning in the October 30 runoffs. “Instead of mourning for me in advance, we should all roll up our sleeves, and celebrate [future] victory together,” Saakashvili stressed, as quoted by Gvaramia.
Besides his attorneys, Saakashvili was visited today by his family as well, his mother Giuli Alasania and children – Eduard and Nikoloz Saakashvili.
This article was updated.