Zelenskyy urges Georgian ambassador to bring emaciated ex-leader Saakashvili home

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday asked the Georgian ambassador to Kyiv to return home and try to “save” jailed ex-leader Mikheil Saakashvili -- a Ukrainian citizen -- after footage showed him looking emaciated.

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Leader of the Caucasus country from 2004 to 2013, Saakashvili was jailed in 2021 after returning from exile on abuse of power charges that rights groups denounce as politically motivated.

Zelensky wants Saakashvili -- who he made a Ukrainian citizen in 2019 -- to be transferred to a clinic in Ukraine or the West.

“Today, I instructed the ministry of foreign affairs to summon the Georgian ambassador to Ukraine, to express our strong protest and to ask him to leave Ukraine within 48 hours to hold consultations with his capital,” Zelensky said on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear if the ambassador was being expelled.

During a court hearing shown on television Monday, Saakashvili lifted his shirt to show his ribs protruding from his chest, a hollow abdomen, and skin clinging tightly to his bones.

Zelensky called on Georgia to “hand over” Saakashvili to Ukraine and “save this man.”

Kyiv, battling a Russian invasion for 16 months, has accused Tbilisi of increasingly cooperating with Moscow.

Zelensky accused Russia of “killing” Saakashvili “at the hands of the Georgian authorities.”

His aide Mykhailo Podolyak accused Tbilisi of “torture”.

Doctors have said Saakahsvili risks dying from conditions he has developed while in custody, though Georgian authorities say he is being given adequate medical care.

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