Georgia's main opposition leader arrested at party HQ

By Davit Kachkachishvili

TBILISI, Georgia (AA) – Georgian police on Tuesday morning arrested the main opposition leader in a raid on his party headquarters.

The raid came as a court in the capital Tbilisi ordered a pre-trial detention of opposition United National Movement’s leader Nika Melia.

The police entered the building of the party’s headquarters and took out party supporters, members and media personnel before arresting Melia.

Several opposition supporters were also detained following clashes with the police at the scene.

– Charges against Melia

On June 20, 2019, thousands of people protested against Russian lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov who took the speaker’s seat in the Georgian parliament at the session of the 26th Orthodox Inter-Parliamentary General Assembly in Georgia.

Melia, who was detained on charges of inciting violence, was released on bail. However, a court in Tbilisi last week ruled for his detention after he refused to pay a bail fee.

At the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, Georgian lawmakers also voted in favor of stripping Melia of his parliamentary immunity.

At a joint news conference with other opposition leaders, who visited his party’s headquarters to support him, Melia announced that he did not accept the court’s decision and would not surrender to the police.

- Prime minister’s resignation

Georgia's former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigned last week due to differences of opinion with his team over the issue.

Criticizing the decision to arrest Melia, Gakharia said it would further escalate the political crisis in the country.

New Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili received a vote of confidence from the parliament on Monday. Garibashvili promised in his speech to the parliament that Melia's detention order would be carried out through legal means.