Mass Protests Held in Georgia for the Release of Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili

A large number of protesters in Georgia rallied for the release of jailed ex-president and opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili.

The demonstrators have gathered in the city’s Freedom Square and main thoroughfare Rustaveli Avenue on Thursday, shouting Saakashvili’s nickname “Misha!” and waving national flags.

Saakashvili, who served as President of Georgia from 2004 to 2013, was arrested and imprisoned in early October following his return from exile in Ukraine. 

The 53-year-old founder of Georgia’s most extensive opposition movement, the United National Movement, has declared a hunger strike, raising concerns about his worsening health.

Dito Sadzaglishvili, Saakashvili’s lawyer, told Al Jazeera that the former president’s situation is getting worse every day.

“He has a problem with movement, he is moving a little bit slower, and his situation is worsening every day,” Sadzaglishvili said.

Meanwhile, Nika Gvaramia, Saakashvili’s lawyer, addressed the gathering, urging them to “defeat” the government of adversary and powerful oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili in the upcoming second-round runoff municipal elections.

“Georgia must return to its pro-Western path and become a beacon of democracy, reforms, and development,” the letter said.

“It is time to save Georgia through our national unity and reconciliation.”

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