FORMER Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is “close to death” after allegedly being poisoned in prison.
He’s considered a personal enemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising further concerns about his health as many of Putin’s enemies have mysteriously fallen ill.
Reports of the pro-EU leader’s state have been unveiled only days after protests erupted in Tbilisi after a bill which many claimed was “pro-Russia” was drafted.
Former President Saakashvili has been in prison since 2018, when he was jailed for “abuse of power”.
A Georgian MP said: “We do hope his death won’t happen and his needs are properly addressed.”
His family raised concerns about a possible poisoning in late 2022 after heavy metals and arsenic were detected in his tests.
Georgian authorities deny Saakashvili has been poisoned, with current ruling party in Georgia claiming his ailment is caused by “refusal to eat enough food”.
Saakashvili previously maintained a 50 day hunger strike to oppose his prison term.
Saakashvili told Sky News: “I was initially 120 kilogrammes, now I am 64, if I become less than 60 doctors predict multiple organ failure.
“I am in bed all the time, my bones are disintegrating and it gives excruciating pain.”
His lawyer has said he looks “like a prisoner in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany”.
Tests of his fingernail clippings revealed high levels of arsenic and heavy metals, leading many to believe he was poisoned.
Despite his ailing health, Saakashvili sent a message to the protestors rallying against the pro-Russian law drafted in recent weeks.
Under the bill, non-government groups and media would be targeted if they take over 20% of funding from abroad.
Saakashvili urged Georgians to stay vigilant: “And be ready to mobilise at short notice, because of the vengeful mood of the oligarchs’ regime.”
The bill has been met with fierce opposition, with many claiming it is anti-democratic and will hinder Georgia’s admission into the European Union.
Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for Saakashvili’s release.
He said: “Ukrainian citizen, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is being slowly killed.
“I urge the world to help save his life and prevent his execution.”
Putin previously said he would “hang Saakashvili by his balls” in 2008 following Russia’s invasion of Georgia.
Saakashvili’s lawyer told CNN: “People forget that in 2008 Putin did what he is doing now to Ukraine to Georgia – under cover of darkness he invaded Georgia.
“And just like President Zelenskyy is doing today in Ukraine, Saakashvili stood up and fought back, and because of this the Kremlin and Putin specifically became his arch-nemesis, number one enemy.”
Putin has been accused of poisoning and other instruments of murder against his enemies in the past.
At least eight prominent critics of Putin and his regime are suspected to have been poisoned after being becoming ill in mysterious circumstances.
At the centre of Russia’s poison arsenal is the mysterious “Lab X”, which has been operating for 100 years.
Many of the mysterious poisonings have been linked to the Lab, which remains shrouded in mystery.
Ex-Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko was famously poisoned in 2004, leaving his face permanently disfigured.
Russian officials claimed the illness was probably caused by bad food and too much alcohol but doctors detected traces of dioxin, which is the toxic chemical used in Agent Orange, in his blood.
The effects of the chemical distorted Yushchenko’s face which was also partially paralysed in the attack.