The health of former Georgian president and opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili, who is in prison, has worsened as he has lost much weight. His doctors have made this known.

“The patient’s condition is becoming serious and deteriorating further as his weight is deficient,” Tamar Davarashvili, Saakashvili’s attending physician, said at a news conference. As a result, he added, “the next step may be an intensive care unit.”

Saakashvili, 55, has been hospitalized since last year after going on a 50-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment for “abuse of power”, according to the government’s political retaliation. According to Davarashvili, the ex-president now weighs “only 67 kilograms, is extremely weakened, bedridden and has pain in his limbs”. According to his lawyer Dito Sadzamlishvili, he weighed 115 kilograms before his arrest in October 2021.

A court in Tbilisi refused to provisionally release Saakashvili in early February despite his deteriorating health condition. Saakashvili was the head of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia from 2004 to 2013 before spending eight years abroad.

During his exile, he lived in Ukraine, where he acquired Ukrainian nationality and held political posts. When he returned clandestinely to Georgia in early October 2021 in the run-up to the local elections in October that year, he was immediately arrested for serving a six-year prison sentence he was sentenced to in absentia in 2018 for “abuse of power.”

The European Parliament has called for Saakashvili’s release, as have Poland, Ukraine and Moldova.

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