EU Ambassador’s concerns over ex-Pres. Saakashvili’s health “surprising”, “groundless” - Vice PM

Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister Thea Tsulukiani has called on the EU Ambassador to encourage Saakashvili to stop “self-harming”. Photo: Culture Ministry press office, 17 Jan 2023 - 15:01, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister Thea Tsulukiani on Tuesday said concerns voiced by Pawel Herczynski, the European Union Ambassador to Georgia, over the allegedly deteriorated health of the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili were “surprising and groundless”. 

Responding to a statement by the diplomat on Monday - in which he said his office was “closely monitoring” the ongoing trial hearings on granting the former official release or postponement of the rest of his sentence on medical grounds - Tsulukiani said professionals of the country’s Penitentiary Service were taking “adequate care” of Saakashvili’s health. 

She also urged the Ambassador to “encourage Saakashvili to stop self-harming” and follow instructions of the medical personnel at the Vivamedi civilian clinic in Tbilisi, where he has been receiving treatment since May 2022.

The Government's efforts to ensure Saakashvili’s well-being will not be successful if the latter continues his unacceptable behaviour with nurses, doctors and other medical workers in the clinic, where he is placed in a two-room suite, in exceptional conditions”, Tsulukiani said. 

Pawel Herczynski, the European Union Ambassador to Georgia, on Monday said he was concerned by Saakashvili's "deteriorated health". Photo: EU in Georgia press office. 

The official, who previously served as the country’s Justice Minister for eight years starting in 2012, also told the EU representative Georgian Dream authorities had “already fulfilled” his calls for better protection of prisoners’ rights. She cited the figure of 144 deaths among prisoners “due to negligence and lack of care in Georgian prisons” in 2010, under Saakashvili’s Government, and contrasted the number with 21 fatal cases in prisons last year. 

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.

Pointing to his “severely deteriorated health”, Saakashvili’s lawyers applied to Tbilisi City Court last year to allow the former officia’s release or the postponement of the rest of his sentence on medical grounds, while Government representatives have claimed Saakashvili has been engaged in “self-harm” in a bid to “escape justice” through Court ruling.

The trial hearings kicked off in December and are ongoing.