Thousands of Georgians rallied in the capital Tbilisi on Thursday (14 October), calling for the release from jail of the former president, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Saakashvili was captured on 1 October after he entered Georgia illegally. He was wanted in connection with several cases of abuse of power during his time in office.
Saakashvili remains popular with some segments of Georgian society, particularly in Western Georgia. Thousands travelled to Tbilisi to participate in the rally. However, many Georgians have negative memories of Saakashvili's presidency and do not want to see his return to public office.
Saakashvili is currently holding a hunger strike, but he is visited regularly by his lawyer through whom he regularly sends messages to his supporters. In today's message the former president told his supporters:
“I am here to contribute to the defeat of the regime, to have my share in the fight of Georgian people against poverty, corruption, injustice and destruction.”
The former president also told supporters, “We should return Georgia to path to the West, turn it into the lighthouse of democracy, reforms and development”. He also called for supporters to vote in the runoffs, in the elections for mayors and municipal councils scheduled to be held on 30 October.