Wednesday, February 24, 2021

opposition leader arrested in violent police operation


Opponent Nika Melia is accused of “organizing mass violence” during anti-government protests in 2019.

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Georgian police arrested an opposition leader on Tuesday (February 23) in a violent raid on his party’s headquarters. Nika Melia, the leader of Georgia’s main opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), was taken out of his political party’s premises to be remanded in custody.

He is accused of “organizing mass violence” during anti-government protests in 2019, but believes the accusations are political in nature.

Hundreds of riot police used tear gas against supporters of Nika Melia and leaders of all opposition parties who had been camping in front of the building since Wednesday. Dozens of opposition supporters were also arrested.

The police operation follows the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia on Thursday who cited a disagreement within the ruling party over the enforcement of a court order to place Nika Melia in pre-trial detention.

The order to arrest Nika Melia has deepened a political crisis that has plagued the Caucasus nation since the October parliamentary elections. Opposition parties claimed the ballot was rigged after the Georgian Dream Party claimed a narrow victory. In the wake of the resignation of Giorgi Gakharia, they called for early elections.



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