RUSTAVI, Georgia (AP) — Hundreds of protesters are rallying outside a prison in Georgia to demand that the country’s incarcerated former President Mikheil Saakashvili be transferred to a private clinic because he is weakening while on a hunger strike.
Saakashvili declared the hunger strike hours after being placed in the prison in Rustavi, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the capital Tbilisi, on Oct. 1. He was arrested that day after returning to Georgia from his home in Ukraine, aiming to bolster opposition forces ahead of nationwide municipal elections.
Saakashvili left Georgia in 2013 following the end of his presidency due to term limits. He later was stripped of his citizenship and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison on abuse-of-power convictions.
Supporters contend that Saakashvili’s health has seriously deteriorated while in prison, but Georgian authorities say his vital signs are normal. Justice Minister Rati Begradze said Friday that Saakashvili has been consuming cereal and fruit juices.