Polish PM sends team of doctors to examine former Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili

Georgia's jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili is seen on a screen via a video link from a clinic during a court hearing to consider a request from Saakashvili's legal team to release him or defer his six-year sentence for abuse of power over health concerns, in Tbilisi, Georgia, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (Irakli Gedenidze/Pool Photo via AP)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says a team of Polish medics has been sent to examine the health of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is a prisoner currently being treated at a clinic in Tbilisi.

“We do not abandon friends in need. I have ordered a team of Polish doctors to begin a comprehensive medical examination of President Saakashvili,” Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

According to Civil.ge, a Georgian news portal, the Polish medics will determine if Mikheil Saakashvili is receiving adequate treatment at the clinic. 

After long delays, the Georgian Ministry of Health finally agreed for foreign doctors to have access to Saakashvili. The move came after pressure from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who demanded that Saakashvili, who is also a Ukrainian citizen, be allowed to leave Georgia to be treated in Ukraine. In a sign of severe displeasure with the Georgian authorities, Zelensky asked the Georgian ambassador to Ukraine to leave Kyiv for consultations back home. 

Saakashvili himself told a recent court hearing that the Georgian authorities should apologize to him, his family, the EU, Ukraine, and all Georgians for allowing his health to deteriorate. He appeared at the court hearing by video link and looked gaunt, having lost a lot of weight.

The former Georgian president returned from Ukraine to his native Georgia in the autumn of 2021 and was detained to serve a prison sentence that he had received in absentia. He views the abuse of power charge upon which he was convicted as trumped up and politically motivated. 

Saakashvili came to power during the Rose Revolution, which led Georgia to adopt a pro-Western stance of seeking EU and NATO membership. He tackled corruption in the country but was accused of heavy-handed rule. Once he lost power, the new government charged him with abuse of power. He was sentenced in absentia after leaving Georgia for Ukraine.  

He has been complaining of poor conditions in jail and a deteriorating state of health. Western governments have been appealing for his release, and he himself alleges that he has been poisoned and tortured. He calls himself “Putin’s prisoner” and accuses the present Georgian government of pro-Russian policies. Saakashvili was president when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008

In April, his doctors reported that his health had deteriorated markedly since his incarceration in October 2021. During his time in prison, he has protested several times by going on hunger strikes and was taken to the hospital at the end of 2021. He is currently being treated at a Tbilisi clinic, but his attorneys are appealing for his prison term to be suspended so that he can be treated abroad. 

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