The Platform

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia. (Giorgi Abdaladze)

If reports are to be believed, Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, is close to death after being poisoned while in prison.

It is not uncommon for a head of state to be jailed, and even to return to power afterward. Brazil’s Lula da Silva is a perfect example. But that might not be the case for Mikheil Saakashvili, the ex-president of Georgia, despite being relatively young at 54 years of age. The reason being is that Saakashvili’s imprisonment might be his permanent undoing.

While several criminal charges are pending against Saakashvili, his health has deteriorated so severely that doctors last week denied his transfer to a courtroom hearing – even while using a wheelchair. A doctor who examined Saakashvili said he is close to a “final step in staircase,” which means death. Recently, Saakashvili’s lawyers stated that experts have found arsenic and increased content of heavy metals in his body, including mercury, and speculated that the former president had been poisoned. “He is flickering like a candle in the wind,” read a recent open letter to the country’s authorities, requesting swift action to save Saakashvili’s life.

Mikheil Saakashvili was president of Georgia for two consecutive terms from 2004 to 2013 and is renowned internationally as a proponent of democratic reforms in Georgia. He later worked in Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed him as the head of the National Reform Council.

In October 2021, the day before municipal elections in Georgia, Saakashvili illegally crossed the Georgian border and was arrested and imprisoned. Calling himself a political prisoner, he went on a hunger strike and was subsequently transferred to a prison hospital, where his condition worsened even further. Saakashvili’s supporters are demanding his transfer abroad for treatment, but authorities are steadfast that he must serve his term in jail.

The question remains – will he survive it?

Read more analysis at Caucasian Journal.

Alexander Kaffka, a native Georgian, is editor-in-chief of Caucasian Journal.