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Georgia's Ex-President Saakashvili To End 50-Day Hunger Strike

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Protesters rally in Tbilisi in support of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili on November 19.

TBILISI -- Georgia's jailed former President Mikheil Saakashvili has been moved to a military hospital and will end a 50-day hunger strike, his lawyer and doctor said.

Saakashvili was taken from a prison clinic to a military hospital in the city of Gori on the night of November 19 amid mounting concerns about his health.

Earlier, lawyer Nika Gvaramia said the 53-year-old had agreed to stop his hunger strike if he were taken to a military hospital.

"Saakashvili has agreed to be transferred to Gori Military Hospital and will end his hunger strike as soon as he is hospitalized," Gvaramia said.

His personal doctor, Nokoloz Kipshidze, said that Saakashvili received a number of tests when he arrived at the military hospital’s intensive care unit. He said the former president’s condition is stable but serious.

Saakashvili had demanded to be taken to a civilian hospital, which the government refused, claiming that his supporters would storm such a facility. Instead, the government proposed that Saakashvili be moved to the military hospital in Gori, located about 70 kilometers from the capital Tbilisi.

A day earlier, Saakashvili lost consciousness and fell during a visit with his lawyer at the prison hospital where he had been transferred more than 10 days ago.

A medical panel set up by the Public Defender’s Office said this week that Saakashvili’s health condition was “critical” and recommended that he be transferred from a prison hospital to a civilian intensive care unit where he could be properly treated.

But Georgian officials called the assessment "fake" and refused to follow its recommendations.

Speaking to reporters earlier on November 19, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan called Saakashvili's condition “critical,” saying the ex-president “needs full care to respond to emergencies that more and more likely to occur if he is not in an appropriate facility."

Saakashvili, who founded the main opposition United National Movement, was arrested on October 1 when he returned after an eight-year absence to rally the opposition ahead of local elections. He then began a hunger strike.

Thousands of his supporters have been staging protests against his arrest.

Saakashvili, who was president from 2004 to 2013, was convicted in absentia in 2018 for abuse of power and seeking to cover up evidence about the beating of an opposition member of parliament.

He currently faces three separate criminal charges related to a violent dispersal of opposition rallies in 2007, alleged embezzlement of state funds, and illegally crossing state borders when he returned to Georgia.

Saakashvili says all the charges against him are politically motivated.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Civil.ge
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