Former President Mikheil Saakashvili has agreed to end the strike after government officials promised to take him to a military hospital.
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has agreed to end a 50-day hunger strike in prisons that have sparked controversy in the former Soviet Union and expressed concern over the United States.
Saakashvili agreed to end his protests on Friday after authorities told him he would be transferred to a military hospital from a prison hospital where a human rights activist said he was being harassed by fellow inmates and that he was not receiving proper treatment.
On Thursday, Saakashvili fainted and doctors urged government officials to transfer him to a private hospital, saying his life was in danger.
Reuters TV footage showed a group consisting of two ambulances leaving late Friday from a jail where Saakashvili, 53, was being held at the Tbilisi headquarters, heading to a military hospital in Gori town.
In a statement to the Sputnik Georgia newspaper, the former president said he would resume eating after the deportation but would not accept “his illegal detention”.
Her doctor, Nokoloz Kipshidze,[Former] “President Saakashvili stopped starving immediately after being transferred to Gori military hospital.”
“She is still in danger of her life and is being held in the intensive care unit,” Kipshidze told AFP, adding that Saakashvili would “resume on Saturday.”
Saakashvili was arrested on October 1 later returning from exile encouraging opposition parties to hold by-elections. He has been in prison for six years after being found not guilty in 2018 for abusing his office during his 2004-2013 term, a charge he denies politically motivated.
Georgia’s human rights leader said Wednesday that Saakashvili should be transferred to intensive care to avoid the risk of heart failure, internal bleeding and coma after more than a month and a half of starvation.
Until Friday, he insisted on not being transferred to a civilian hospital.
‘Denial of respect’
Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Georgia should ensure Saakashvili’s “safety in prison, and provide him with the necessary medical care during the post-famine recovery period”.
Saakashvili was transferred last week to a prison hospital where, Amnesty International said, “he was denied respect” and inadequate care.
The liberal group on Twitter described it as “fair choice” and “political revenge”.
Saakashvili said he was beaten by prison guards and feared for his life.
Saakashvili took power through the “Rose Revolution” of peace from 2003 to 2013 and made Western changes during his tenure but led Georgia to a bitter war with Russia.
He left the country after his second and final term and moved to Ukraine, where he headed for a government agency responsible for reform.
His case has attracted thousands of his followers on the streets in recent weeks.
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has said Saakashvili will not be pardoned. The U.S. on Thursday urged Georgia to treat her “fairly and respectfully” and to follow through on her experience.
“I will not accept my illegal detention,” Saakashvili told Facebook on Friday evening, adding that he was ready to “appear before a fair trial and accept any decision he may make”.
Once I am released, I will be with you – equally among the same people – in rebuilding our country, “Saakashvili wrote in a speech to the country.
He thanked the Georgian people for their “extraordinary demonstration of solidarity and humanity” and called for a “liberation” campaign under the rule of oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili of the Georgian Dream party.
“I believe in our success more than ever.”