Vice PM hopes ex-Pres. Saakashvili stops “self-harming”

Vice Prime Minister Thea Tsulukiani on Friday said former President Mikheil Saakashvili was engaged in “self-harm”. Photo: Culture Ministry press office, 09 Dec 2022 - 20:10, Tbilisi,Georgia

Vice Prime Minister Thea Tsulukiani on Friday expressed her hope that imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili would stop “self-harming” and resume his normal diet, in response to recent comments by doctors that the former official “eats what he wants and when he wants”, refusing to follow their instructions. 

I really hope that Saakashvili’s condition will improve rapidly and he stops self-harming. It is necessary for him to change his position, which is damaging his health”, said the official. 

She stressed the country’s penitentiary and health systems have been doing their “utmost” to ensure health and safety of the former official since his arrest in Tbilisi in October 2021, while the latter “refusing” to engage in the process. 

The only thing [we lack] is his [Saakashvili’s] own desire and involvement in his own healthcare process”, the Minister noted. 

A trial hearing in Tbilisi City Court on granting the release of Saakashvili on medical grounds or postponing the rest of his sentence has been postponed from Friday to Wednesday, with a lawyer naming “technical problems”. 

The recent health report by Empathy, a Georgian-based rehabilitation centre, which had pointed to more than 20 health issues and raised the potential of “coma and death”, was cited by Saakashvili’s lawyers in their appeal to the court on December 1 to either release Saakashvili or postpone the rest of his sentence. 

The Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze on Tuesday said the former official was engaged in “self-harm” and expressed his “suspicion” that Saakashvili and his “close entourage” may “not be interested in [actual] recovery [of his health condition]”. 

Saakashvili, a citizen of Ukraine, was arrested in Tbilisi in October 2021 on his clandestine return to Georgia ahead of municipal elections.

The former president is serving a six-year term for abuse of power in two separate cases stemming back to his time in office, while three other cases are pending.