Protesters rally at Georgian parliament for ill ex-president

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Demonstrators rallied outside the parliament building in Georgia’s capital Friday in support of jailed former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who doctors say is suffering neurological problems after more than seven weeks on hunger strike.

Saakashvili’s supporters have demanded he be transferred from a prison clinic to a regular hospital because of his worsening health. On Friday, authorities offered to move him to a military hospital, but it was unclear whether he would accept that.

A day earlier, Saakashvili fell and lost consciousness at the end of a visit with his lawyer in the prison.

The national ombudsman’s office said Friday that the fall was due to a condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which is caused by vitamin-B deficiency and can result in vision and motor problems.

Saakashvili, who was president in 2008-13, left Georgia for Ukraine after the end of his second term and was later convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison. He was arrested on Oct. 1 after returning to Georgia to try to bolster opposition forces in the run-up to nationwide municipal elections.


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