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The Daily Beat: 14 December

  • Flaunting the court order, the Penitentiary Service denied Mikheil Saakashvili the right to attend his trial from the clinic through remote linkup, citing the lack of equipment. The hearing was rescheduled for 22 December. In protest, Saakashvili went on a hunger strike, which he promptly ended, reportedly, at the European MPs’ request. The Justice Minister told the public the imprisoned patient was engaged in “self-harm” and was obstructing medical care. Saakashvili’s lawyers said his right to stand trial is being violated.
  • In the evening, the Ministry of Justice released the footage of ailing Saakashvili shot at the hospital at various points, from August to December 2022. According to the Penitentiary, it demonstrates Saakashvili “simulating ailment” and obstructing the treatment. The Minister of Justice cited “high public interest” in the context where “the radical forces strive to tarnish the image of the country” and spoke extensively about the “attempts of Saakashvili to seize power through unconstitutional means.” Last December, the State Inspector Service (SIS), an official watchdog, found the earlier release of similar footage illegal. This decision was overturned by the court in January 2021, which the SIS termed “a dangerous precedent”.
  • The European Parliament adopted a critical report on Georgia’s implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU. Among other concerns, the Parliament called for the elimination of the excessive influence of vested interests, pointing the finger at Bidzina Ivanishvili, the majority party’s patron. It also called for Mikheil Saakashvili’s release. The visibly irked Tbilisi mayor, Kakha Kaladze said if the European Parliament is requesting the revision of “a specific criminal sentence” against Saakashvili, then “they could keep their useless status to themselves.”
  • Two Georgian fighters were killed by the Russian army in hostilities near the hotly contested Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, bringing the total Georgian casualties to 35.

Talk and show

  • Social media erupted in anger at the release of Saakashvili’s hospital footage. Many watchers and human rights activists balked at releasing the intimate shots, where Saakashvili appears exhausted and exhibits erratic behavior, saying it was aimed at humiliating the inmate and influencing public opinion. Meanwhile, the doctors seem to agree on the inmate’s serious condition. Worryingly, many social media comments jeering Saakashvili seemed to originate from the identifiable members of the majority party as well as local government officials.


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