Saakashvili's health significantly deteriorates as calls for his humanitarian transfer abroad for treatment increase

09 May, 2022

Mikheil Saakashvili's health seems to be significantly deteriorating. According to a report published by the Public Defender of Georgia on April 27, Saakashvili is in a negative catabolic state, has anorexia, PTSD, and depression, and requires "timely, complex neuro-psychological and physical rehabilitation." Otherwise, the doctors claim, the protein starvation will "inevitably lead" to significant loss of muscle and weight, increased risk of infections, and disruption of the functioning of internal organs, they warn.

Saakashvili's doctors, family, and UNM leaders are requesting his urgent "humanitarian transfer" to a hospital abroad in Europe. GD leaders claim that Saakashvili is simulating illness intending to acquire freedom. According to Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze, Saakashvili is staging an "inapt show" to free himself, but he will have to serve the current sentence of 6 years and "possibly more," pending the verdicts of other ongoing court cases.

On April 20, Mikheil Saakashvili, when appearing in the Tbilisi City Court, stopped his intervention and asked for the doctor while seeming distressed and confused. He was then escorted out of the courtroom. Upon return to the courtroom, he spoke about his health condition, saying that he needed urgent medical care, which the prison was unable to provide. According to Saakashvili, he lost 11 kg and was unable to control his legs a few days ago.

While, according to the doctors, Saakashvili's condition is severe and requires urgent medical attention, which the prison facilities can not provide, the Government of Georgia is downplaying the danger. According to GD leader Irakli Kobakhidze he "must eat eggs and cottage cheese, and the problem will be over." Kobakhidze also said that Saakashvili managed to be a president with psychic problems and could, therefore, successfully remain an inmate with the same problems. GD MP Sozar Subari stated that if Saakashvili's condition requires, he could be placed on the "suicide watch" program. In an official response to the report of the Public Defender's group of medical experts, the Ministry of Penitentiary raised questions and asserted that Saakashvili has an opportunity to feed three times a day, and buy additional food from the prison store and receive packages. The Ministry claims that the prison facility has all the necessary means to treat Saakashvili; however, the patient is deliberately not taking certain medications.

EU's Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell made it clear that "the responsibility for the health of Mr Saakashvili, including appropriate medical care and the upholding of his fundamental rights, lies with the Georgian authorities." US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan urged the government to take the recommendations of the Public Defender seriously.

On May 5, Saakashvili appealed to the GD MPs, who are also doctors, particularly David Sergeenko, former Health minister, and Dimitri Khundadze, former health committee chair, to visit him in prison as a patient and not a politician. However, GD MPs promptly dismissed this proposal. According to Khundadze, he sees no point in visiting Saakashvili since he already has information that all the necessary treatment is provided to him.

Saakashvili's family has announced that from May 3, they are starting the non-stop demonstrations to save the ex-President's life. UNM has since conducted several protests in Tbilisi and Batumi. Several opposition activists were arrested in Batumi on May 8 while blocking the street.

Meanwhile, the European People's Party issued a statement on May 5 that it was "concerned about the reports of the dire health condition of former President Mikheil Saakashvili." Saakashvili's Facebook page also published an invitation from EPP leader Donald Tusk to attend the EPP Summit at the end of May.

Mikheil Saakashvili, a third President of Georgia from 2004-2013, secretly returned to Georgia on the night of September 28-29 from Ukraine and was arrested on October 1, the day before the local elections. Following the detention, Saakashvili immediately launched a hunger strike, and as his health condition deteriorated, the authorities transferred him forcibly to the Gldani Prison Hospital. On November 19, Saakashvili accepted an offer by the Georgian government to be transferred to the Gori Military Hospital and agreed to cease his hunger strike. Following a nearly month-and-a-half long treatment, the ex-President was discharged on December 30 and was returned to the Rustavi prison.