Imprisoned Georgian ex-president ends 7-week hunger strike

Mikheil Saakashvili’s lawyer said on Friday that the imprisoned Georgian president had agreed to end a seven-week hunger strike that caused him neurological damage.

Nika Gvaramiya also said Saakashvili had agreed to transfer him from a prison clinic to a military hospital, an offer made by the country’s government hours before persistent calls for his transfer to a regular hospital for better care.

His supporters have staged frequent protests, including one outside parliament in the capital Tbilisi on Friday, denouncing Saakashvili’s arrest and calling for his better treatment.

On Thursday, Saakashvili fell unconscious at the end of a visit with a prison lawyer.

The National Ombudsman’s office said the fall was due to a condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which is caused by a vitamin B deficiency and can lead to vision and movement problems.

Saakashvili, who was president from 2008 to 2013, left Georgia for Ukraine after his second term expired and was later convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison. He was arrested on 1 October after returning to Georgia in an attempt to support opposition forces in the run-up to nationwide municipal elections.

He declared his hunger strike hours after his arrest.

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