Timing is everything, and it may determine the fate of Georgia’s former president, Mikheil Saakashvili. Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013, and governor of Ukraine’s Odesa Oblast in 2015 and 2016. He returned to Georgia on October 1, 2021 and promptly started a hunger strike to protest previous convictions and new charges against him, including battery, misappropriation, abuse of power, and embezzlement.
Recently, there has been a groundswell of protest to force the Georgian government, led by the Georgian Dream party, to free Saakashvili so he can seek medical attention in the U.S. or Europe for his deteriorating health. His dire condition may be caused by neglect and heavy metal poisoning, and a council of physicians convened by Georgia’s state ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria declared the prison clinic (Vivamedi Clinic) “fails to meet his medical needs.” His condition is likely worsened by petty harassment by the government, including turning off the electricity to the clinic.
Saakashvili demonstrated bad judgement in the past, by starting a war with Russia in 2008, and returning to Georgia despite earlier convictions and with new charges pending against him, despite an earlier pledge to not return. And he made it easy for the Georgian authorities by entering the country illegally, inside a cargo container. (Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in 2015 after he accepted Ukrainian citizenship.)