Saakashvili returned from exile a few weeks ago and was subsequently imprisoned. There he went on a hunger strike. His personal physician said earlier this week that the former president needs urgent treatment in hospital as his condition deteriorates. The prison service denied that.
The authorities had already braced themselves for the planned demonstration. On Thursday afternoon, Georgian television showed that the riot police were massively present at the parliament building. Many of Saakashvili’s supporters had flocked to the capital during the day.
Saakashvili was Georgia’s president for many years, but left in 2013 when a rival came to power. He later turned up in the Netherlands, among other places, the homeland of his wife. The pro-Western Saakashvili has held top positions in Ukraine in recent years and holds a Ukrainian passport.
The former president was sentenced in absentia in Georgia in 2018 to six years in prison for abuse of power, an accusation he called politically motivated. The fact that he faced a prison sentence did not prevent him from returning to Georgia in the run-up to local elections.