Connect with us

World

Georgian ex-president threatened and abused in prison hospital – rights official

Published

on

November 9, 2021

TBILISI (Reuters) -The prison hospital treating Georgia’s hunger-striking former president Mikheil Saakashvili lacks proper medical equipment and fellow inmates there have threatened and abused him, a Georgian human rights official said on Tuesday.

“Particular attention should be paid to the environment in which Mikheil Saakashvili is placed, which grossly violates human rights,” Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, Georgia’s rights ombudsman, said in a statement.

Authorities in the South Caucasus country transferred the 53-year-old Saakashvili to a prison hospital in the capital Tbilisi on Monday, just over five weeks after he declared a hunger strike in jail.

Advertisement

Lomjaria, who visited him the same day, said the hurling of insults and threats from other prisoners “can be heard in Saakashvili’s cell … and clearly represents psychological pressure”.

In a letter published by his lawyers, Saakashvili alleged that prison guards had insulted him, dragged him to the ground, including by his hair, and hit him several times in the neck as he was being transferred.

Beka Basilaia, Saakashvili’s lawyer, accused the authorities of refusing out of spite to transfer him to a civilian clinic as he had requested.

He told Reuters prison authorities were using inmates to intimidate Saakashvili to get back at him for the reforms he enacted during his presidency, including his campaign against organised crime.

“They want revenge,” Basilaia said of the authorities. “They want to pressure Saakashvili with psychological terror and undermine his physical safety at the hands of criminals.”

Advertisement

Saakashvili was arrested on Oct. 1 after returning from exile to Georgia to rally the opposition on the eve of local elections, in what he described as a mission to save the country. He faces six years in prison after being convicted in absentia in 2018 of abusing his office during his 2004-2013 presidency, charges he rejects as politically motivated.

A Georgian court is set to hear his case on Wednesday, RIA news agency reported.

Surveillance footage published by the Georgian prison service that was timestamped on Monday showed a man who looked like Saakashvili packing a few belongings in plastic bags in a cluttered prison cell before being escorted out, walking unaided. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.

‘RESPECT HUMAN DIGNITY’

The ombudsman said the prison hospital’s lack of equipment needed to treat Saakashvili “clearly violates the obligation of the state to respect human dignity”.

Advertisement

“It should also be noted that Mikheil Saakashvili continues to be on hunger strike and he refuses to receive proper medication, medical care, minerals or vitamins necessary for the procedures of hunger strike,” the statement said.

Saakashvili is the most prominent and divisive living figure in Georgia’s post-Soviet history, having come to power via a peaceful “Rose Revolution” in 2003 and led the country into a disastrous war with Russia five years later.

His case has drawn thousands of his supporters on to the streets in recent weeks and raised political tensions in the country of 3.7 million people. The state security service accused him at the weekend of plotting a coup.

Georgian authorities have already said they would not pardon Saakashvili.

(Reporting by David Chkhikvishvili; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement

World

Pope says willing to go to Moscow to meet Orthodox Patriarch

Published

on

December 6, 2021

By Philip Pullella

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Monday he was willing to go to Moscow for to meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill “brother to brother” in what would be the first trip by a pope to Russia.

The pair’s meeting in Cuba in 2016 was the first by a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

Advertisement

Both sides have declared a willingness to work towards unity but they are still far apart theologically and over what role the pope would play in an eventually reunited Church.

“We are brothers and we talk straight to each other. We do not dance the minuet,” Francis told reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Cyprus and Greece.

“We have to move forward, walking and working towards unity.”

He said he was willing to go Moscow and that a top Russian Orthodox official was expected in Rome next week to decide the time and location of the meeting.

Francis said working out the protocols would be less important than meeting “brother to brother” with Kirill.

Advertisement

The Pope normally travels to countries with a joint invitation from its religious authorities as well as one from the government, meaning that Francis would most likely need an invitation from President Vladimir Putin to visit Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church, the largest in Christian Orthodoxy, with about 100 million members, is closely aligned with the Kremlin.

Francis said the meeting with Kirill was “on the not too distant horizon”.

He said Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, who is responsible for the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations, would be coming to the Vatican to meet him to discuss where and when the next meeting can take place.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alison Williams)

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Yemen Houthis bury their dead as Marib fighting rages

Published

on

December 6, 2021

By Adel Al-Khader

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis held military funerals on Monday for 25 fighters killed in battles with a Saudi-led coalition, as fighting shows no sign of abating despite intense international diplomacy to end the seven-year-old conflict.

The funerals took place as fighting has raged in the gas-rich Marib region, while warplanes from the coalition have intensified their bombing of Sanaa, Marib and other areas.

Advertisement

The Houthis have also stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using armed drones and missiles.

An honour guard carried the coffins – draped with flags, flowers and photographs of the dead – with military music through the capital Sanaa. Relatives gathered to mourn their loved ones.

“We are in these days inspired by these martyrs’ pride and dignity and say to them: ‘congratulations! You have preceded us to a paradise as wide as the heavens and earth’,” said Ali Muhyaddin, a relative of one of the dead.

The war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

U.N.-led efforts to agree a ceasefire have stalled in the conflict, which is seen largely as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign invasion.

Advertisement

Houthi media showed fighters exchanging heavy artillery fire with coalition forces in Marib on Sunday as warplanes flew overhead. All the 25 fighters buried in Sanaa were killed in Marib, Houthi officials said.

The Houthis have launched a year-long offensive to take Marib, which hosts Yemen’s biggest gas fields. The city is the last stronghold of the internationally recognised government.

Marib is home to 3 million people, including nearly 1 million who fled other parts of Yemen after the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The number of displaced people in camps in the province has risen nearly 10-fold since September, with more than 45,000 people fleeing their homes as Houthi forces press the offensive, the U.N. migration agency IOM said last month.

(Writing by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Putin and Modi discuss trade, humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

Published

on

December 6, 2021

By Alasdair Pal and Neha Arora

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi on Monday, with trade and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan both on the agenda.

Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban earlier this year has led to a humanitarian crisis in the country, which New Delhi and Moscow have both previously said risks destabilising the region.

Advertisement

“The fight against terrorism is also a fight against drug trafficking and organised crime,” Putin said in introductory remarks broadcast by Indian media. “In that regard, we are concerned about developments of the situation in Afghanistan.”

The visit by Putin and several top Russian officials comes amid increasingly strained relations between Russia and the United States, also a key Indian ally.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a deal to supply India with S-400 air defence missile systems was being implemented despite what he said were U.S. efforts to undermine the accord.

India and Russia are expected to cement several trade and defence pacts at the summit.

“The relation between India and Russia is truly a unique and reliable model,” Modi said.

Advertisement

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending