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Rally in support of Mikhail Saakashvili begins in central Tbilisi

On October 1, Mikhail Saakashvili was apprehended in Georgia, where he had come back prior to the first round of local elections

TBILISI, November 8./TASS/. The United National Movement opposition party is holding a rally in central Tbilisi in support of former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvii. The footage of the rally is shown by Georgia’s Mtavari Arxi TV channel.

Not only residents of Tbilisi take part, but also supporters of the former president from various regions of the country. Apart from the leadership of United National Movement, many other politicians take part.

Transport was halted on Freedom Square and nearby streets. Security has been stepped up at the parliament and government buildings located in the neighborhood. Water cannons have been deployed to the site.

The main demand of the protesters was that Saakashvili, on a hunger strike, be transferred to a civil clinic. However, several hours before the rally began, Saakashvili had been airlifted to a prison hospital in the Gldani district of Tbilisi due to the worsening of the former president’s condition.

On October 1, Saakashvili was apprehended in Georgia, where he had come back prior to the first round of local elections. The former president is serving a prison sentence in the city of Rustavi, where he went on a hunger strike, as he considers himself a political prisoner. Georgia’s Justice Ministry has repeatedly suggested transferring the politician to a prison hospital, but Saakashvili and his lawyers opposed it firmly and insisted that he should be taken to a private hospital.

The ex-president left Georgia in 2013. Later, four criminal cases were brought against him, and on two of them, he was sentenced to three and six years in jail in absentia. On October 20, Saakashvili was charged with illegal border crossing, which may entail imprisonment of up to five years. Recently, the politician has been a resident of Ukraine and holds Ukrainian citizenship.