Putin’s nemesis, ex-president of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, says he is “close to death” after being poisoned in prison

Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is “near death” after he was allegedly poisoned in prison.

He is 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.

He has been a bitter opponent of Vladimir Putin for decadesCredit: EPA
Recent photos show him in poor shape after losing a tremendous amount of weightPhoto credit: Sky News
The deterioration in his health comes just days after massive protests in TbilisiPhoto credit: Reuters

Reports of the pro-EU leader’s state were unveiled just days after protests erupted in Tbilisi over the drafting of a bill many claimed was “pro-Russia”.

Former President Saakashvili has been in prison since 2018 when he was jailed for “abuse of power”.

A Georgian MP said: “We hope that his death will not come to pass and that his needs will be adequately addressed.”

His family raised concerns about possible poisoning in late 2022 after his tests found heavy metals and arsenic.

Georgian authorities deny that Saakashvili was poisoned, and the current ruling party in Georgia claims his illness was caused by “a refusal to eat enough”.

Saakashvili had previously maintained a 50-day hunger strike to counter his prison sentence.

Saakashvili told Sky News: “I started out weighing 120 kilograms, now I’m 64, if I turn less than 60 doctors predict multiple organ failure.

“I’m in bed all the time, my bones are dissolving and it’s causing excruciating pain.”

His lawyer said he looked “like a prisoner in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.”

Tests of his clipped fingernails revealed high levels of arsenic and heavy metals, leading many to believe he was poisoned.

Despite his ailing health, Saakashvili addressed a message to demonstrators demonstrating against the pro-Russian law drafted in recent weeks.

Under the draft law, non-state groups and media would be targeted if they took on 20% of foreign funding.

Saakashvili called on the Georgians to remain vigilant: “And be ready to mobilize in the short term in the face of the oligarch regime’s mood for revenge.”

The bill has met with fierce opposition, with many claiming it is anti-democratic and will hinder Georgia’s accession to the European Union.

Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for Saakashvili’s release.

He said: “The Ukrainian citizen, former President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, is slowly being killed.

“I call on the world to help save his life and prevent his execution.”

Putin previously said he would “hang Saakashvili by his balls” in 2008 after the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Saakashvili’s lawyer told CNN: “People forget that in 2008 Putin did what he is doing now with Ukraine and Georgia – he invaded Georgia under cover of darkness.

“And just like President Zelenskyy is doing in Ukraine today, Saakashvili stood up and fought back, and because of that, the Kremlin and Putin specifically became his nemesis, enemy number one.”

Putin has been accused of poisoning and other means of murder against his enemies in the past.

At least eight prominent critics of Putin and his regime are said to have been poisoned after falling ill under mysterious circumstances.

At the heart of Russia’s poison arsenal is the mysterious “Lab X,” which has been in operation for 100 years.

Many of the mysterious poisonings have been linked to the laboratory, which remains shrouded in mystery.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned in 2004, leaving his face permanently disfigured.

Russian officials claimed the illness was likely caused by bad food and drinking too much alcohol, but doctors detected traces of dioxin, the toxic chemical used in Agent Orange, in his blood.

The effects of the chemical contorted Yushchenko’s face, which was also partially paralyzed in the attack.

Yushchenko suffered a disfigurement after being poisonedCredit: Rex Features
Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was murdered after applying for political asylum in EnglandPhoto credit: GETTY IMAGES
The Kremlin critic is “close to death”Photo credit: Sky News
He returned to his native Georgia in 2021 and was immediately jailedPhoto credit: AFP
His ribs are clearly visible as he has lost almost 50kgPhoto credit: Sky News
Police and protesters have clashed over the past week over Georgia’s future in the EUPhoto credit: Getty
Violent protests are taking place in Georgia following the Foreign Agents LawPhoto credit: Getty