Protesters demanded the release of Georgia’s ex-president Saakashvili on health grounds
On January 4. demonstrators took to the streets of Georgia and a number of other European cities, demanding the release of former president Mikheil Saakashvili. The “global “rallies in support of Saakashvili were announced on December 27 by Mark Feygin, a Russian human rights activist, and Oleksiy Arestovich, an (then) adviser to the Head of the President’s Office of Ukraine.
Pro-Saakashvili demonstrations were held in at least 20 cities internationally, including New York, Washington DC, Tokyo, Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Canberra, Warsaw, Chisinau, Sofia, and Kyiv; primarily small groups of protesters gathering outside Georgian embassies and consulates.
Kavkaz.Realii reported that members of the Chechen diaspora, including supporters of Chechen independence, joined pro-Saakashvili rallies held in Strasbourg, Bern, and Vienna. Honorary consul of the Chechen separatist republic of Ichkeria in France, Chechen public figure Shamil Albakov joined the action as well.
“We express extreme concern for the situation surrounding Mikhail Saakashvili, who has been in prison in Georgia for more than a year. We wish him a safe and speedy release… We remember his speech at the UN, where he proudly mentioned the struggle of the Chechen people for their freedom and mentioned our hero of Baisangur Benoevsky… However, the forces of the Russian world intervened, and now they are pulling Georgia back into their terrible world… The consequences we see today”, – said Albakov at the meeting.
A rally in solidarity with Mikheil Saakashvili was also held in Tbilisi. Protesters bore Ukrainian and Georgian flags. The rally was attended by the presidential candidate of the “United National Movement” Levan Khabeishvili. “We are supporting Feigin’s initiative from two places – the house of Bidzina Ivanishvili in Kotupetili, the main source of evil in this country, and near the Chancellery in Tbilisi,” Khabeishvili said.
On December 29, American toxicologist David Smith was interrogated as a witness at Saakashvili’s trial. According to the latter, Saakashvili was poisoned with heavy metals in prison before being transferred to the Vivamed clinic. At Saakashvili’s trial, Tamar Abashidze, a neurologist at Vivamed clinic, was also interrogated as a witness, who testified that Saakashvili’s neurological condition had deteriorated significantly in recent months.
When asked whether Saakashvili’s medical treatment in prison and at the clinic had yielded any positive result, the doctor said that any such treatment must be paired with rehab to have a salubrious effect.