Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has called on the US and international community to intervene to save his life as he continues to be held in custody. Saakashvili has accused Georgian billionaire and opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili of conspiring with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to undermine democracy in Georgia. Saakashvili is also calling on the international community to put pressure on Georgian President, Salome Zurabishvili, to release him on humanitarian grounds. Saakashvili has been in custody since his arrest in February 2021 for alleged abuse of power during his time as Georgian president, and he says he has been physically and psychologically tortured since his arrest.
He was president of Georgia between 2004 and 2007 and again from 2008 to 2013. After coming to power, Saakashvili became a standard bearer for democratic governance, free markets and equal rights, championing Ukraine’s territorial integrity, seeking NATO membership for Georgia and striking a pro-Western stance in a region dominated by Moscow.
A man of singularly indomitable spirit, Saakashvili launched a crackdown on corruption, reformed the economy and sought to modernise the country. However, he is now fighting for his life in Georgian jail cell, with security experts warning that his death in custody would be a major setback for Georgian democracy and for Boris Johnson’s hopes of securing a successful G7 meeting.
Saakashvili has urged the West to impose sanctions on Ivanishvili, including visa restrictions and a bank freeze, arguing that this would send a signal that the US and Europe remain committed to the ideals of democracy, decency and justice.