Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Georgia arrests opposition leader and uses gas in a raid on his party headquarters


Security forces raided the headquarters of the Nika Melia party (Davit Kashkashvili / Anatolia)

Today, Tuesday, Georgian police arrested an opposition leader and used tear gas in a violent raid on his party headquarters, which would deepen a political crisis in the country since the parliamentary elections that took place last year.
Live television footage showed Nika Melia, leader of the United National Movement, the largest opposition party in the country, as he was taken from his party headquarters to be placed in pretrial detention before his trial.
Meanwhile, hundreds of riot police used tear gas against his supporters and leaders of all opposition parties who had been gathering in the building since Wednesday, according to scenes broadcast on “Imtavari” TV.

Dozens of opposition supporters were arrested.
British Ambassador Mark Clayton said: “I am shocked by the scenes at the headquarters of the United National Movement,” adding: “Violence and chaos in Tbilisi is the last thing that Georgia needs now. I urge all parties to exercise restraint.”
Georgia has been witnessing a political crisis since the parliamentary elections last October, which, according to the opposition parties, were marred by fraud.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Georgy Gakharia, who belongs to the Georgian Dream Party, resigned due to his party’s decision to arrest Melia.
Reports of his arrest sparked outrage among the opposition and warnings from the Western allies of the former Soviet state.
In the wake of Gakharia’s resignation, the opposition called early elections.
Last week, the United States and the European Union called on the Georgian government to resolve the crisis peacefully and to ensure that the judicial system remains free of political bias.
Melia rejected accusations against him of “organizing widespread violence” during a demonstration condemning the government in 2019, saying that it was politically motivated.

(France Brush)





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