Opposition leader Melia arrested after parliament approves new PM, cabinet

  • Opposition leader Nika Melia was arrested in his cabinet earlier today. Photo: IPN. 

Agenda.ge, 23 Feb 2021 - 11:01, Tbilisi,Georgia

Former opposition MP and the head of the United National Movement opposition party Nika Melia has been arrested by police earlier today for refusal to post bail shortly after the parliament approved Irakli Garibashvili prime minister and his cabinet late yesterday. 

Melia was arrested in his office in the UNM headquarters in Tbilisi by special unit servicemen. 

Police allegedly used tear gas in the room.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs say that ‘proportional force’ has been used during the special operation and that UNM supporters opposed law enforcers. 

Twenty individuals have been detained in the process along with Melia. 

The opposition says that Melia’s arrest ‘is the end of the Georgian Dream government.’ 

They have announced a rally at the administration building of the government of Georgia at 15:00 today. 

We have no right to lose the chance to protect freedom. Rallies are inevitable,” one of the leaders of European Georgia opposition party Giga Bokeria said. 

The head of the Georgia Dream party Irakli Kobakhidze said that ‘modern bolsheviks like Melia, Bokeria, Saakashvili and others will not be able to harm the state.’ 

 Responding to radicals, enforcement of law and the protection of the constitutional order is the only way for the democratic development of the country and ending the polarisation in Georgian politics,” Kobakhidze said. 

He stated that Melia and the part of the opposition are ‘anti-state forces.’ 

The ruling Georgian Dream party says that everyone is equal before the law. Photo: Georgian Dream press office. 

 What is the case about? 

Melia is charged with incitement to violence during the June protests in Tbilisi back in 2019 which were sparked by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament. 

He was released on 30,000 GEL bail on June 27, 2020.

However, Melia violated the conditions of his bail by publicly removing his surveillance bracelet and 40,000 GEL was added to his bail in November 2020. 

Melia has refused to pay the 40,000 GEL bail (within 50 days of sentencing) and on February 5, 2021 the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office warned him of the possibility of his bail conditions being reversed to detention. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs say that police have warned Melia several times to leave the building. Photo: IPN. 

On February 16 The Georgian Parliament suspended the MP status of Melia and allowed the country’s Prosecutor’s Office to request his arrest by the court. 

On February 17 Tbilisi City Court ruled that Melia be remanded into custody for failure to post bail. 

On February 18 Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia resigned ‘because he failed to make an agreement with the ruling Georgian Georgian Dream party over the arrest of Melia.’