Georgia Protesters Demand Care for Ex-Leader on Hunger Strike
(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of opposition protesters in Georgia rallied on Saturday outside the prison holding former president Mikheil Saakashvili, on a hunger strike for more than a month. They demanded he be moved to a hospital.
The activists set up tents and makeshift huts outside the prison, vowing to continue rallies until their demand for his move, within 24 hours, was met.
Saakashvili, 53, was arrested on Oct. 1 shortly after returning to Georgia, where he became president after the so-called Rose Revolution in 2003. He fled the country in 2013.
He returned to urge opposition to the ruling Georgian Dream party in regional elections on Oct. 2, the day he declared his hunger strike.
The activists also condemned CCTV tapes released by the prison authorities that appear to show Saakashvili in early November consuming fruit juices and purees. They said the liquids were prescribed by prison doctors and that he doesn’t eat solid food.
Saakashvili is due to appear in court this month. He was charged with several counts of abuse of power and sentenced in absentia after he left Georgia in 2013. Saakashvili has denied all charges, calling them politically motivated.
Georgia’s united opposition groups lost runoff elections Oct. 30. They said the vote was “stolen” and have vowed to continue their campaign.
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