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Mikheil Saakashvili: Former Georgian President ends hunger strike in prison

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By AFP  with Euronews
Mikheil Saakashvili was convicted in absentia of abuse of power during his presidency.
Mikheil Saakashvili was convicted in absentia of abuse of power during his presidency.   -   Copyright  Irakli Gedenidze/Pool Photo via AP

The former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili says he is ending a hunger strike in prison, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The 54-year-old had been demanding better access to medical care but said that he and his supporters needed to be prepared amid the war in Ukraine.

"I'm ending my hunger strike on its 20th day," Saakashvili said in a post on his Facebook account.

The former President had begun his latest hunger strike on 21 February, three days before Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory.

He was imprisoned last year after returning from exile in Ukraine. Saakashvili says the abuse of power charges against him are politically motivated. After his initial arrest, he observed a 50-day hunger strike to protest against his detention.

Saakashvili's arrest exacerbated a political crisis in Georgia that erupted after parliamentary elections in 2020, which were narrowly won by the ruling Georgian Dream party. The country's opposition has claimed that the elections were fraudulent.

Saakashvili served as President of the small Caucasus country from 2004 to 2013 before becoming opposition leader.

Georgia, which borders Russia and also has ambitions to join the EU and NATO, was the victim of a Russian military offensive in 2008 and had part of its territory amputated.