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Georgian opposition leader detained amid popular protests

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Georgian police today (Tuesday) used tear gas at the office of the United National Movement opposition party and arrested its leader and at least 20 other activists.

According to News i, quoting Sputnik news agency, the Georgian Interior Ministry announced on its official website: The verdict of “Nino Chakhnashvili”, a judge of the Tbilisi city court, regarding the arrest of “Nikanor Melia”, the leader of the United National Movement opposition party, was announced on February 17 this year. And its implementation was entrusted to the Ministry of Interior.

The police had already warned members of the United National Movement opposition party about their plans to detain Melia and asked them not to intervene, the ministry added.

The Georgian Interior Ministry further stressed that the representatives of the Ministry of Interior had warned the people who had gathered in front of the office of the opposition party not to hinder the representatives of the police in carrying out the court order. The Interior Ministry calls on the representatives of this political party, as well as their supporters, to protest peacefully, to refrain from violent acts, and not to obstruct the representatives of the police during the execution of the court order.

According to local media reports, several ambulances and police patrol teams have been deployed in front of the party office. Published images show that many people in the office of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party need medical care.

Mark Clayton, the British ambassador to Georgia, condemned Melia’s detention and called on the authorities to refrain from violence.

“I was shocked by the images released today from the headquarters of the United National Movement opposition party,” Clayton tweeted. Violence in Tbilisi is the last thing Georgia needs right now. I call on all parties involved to exercise restraint until now and in the coming days.

Georgia police have arrested 21 people during a raid on Melia for resisting police officers, Rustavi 2 reported.

Melia had previously been briefly detained for leading an anti-Russian uprising and protest in June 2019 and was released on a 30,000 lari ($ 9,063) bail.

He was forced to wear a surveillance bracelet, but in public during another wave of opposition protests in November 2020 to protest the results of the parliamentary elections, he publicly removed the bracelet. This prompted the court to reconsider the conditions of Melia’s release and set a new bail of 40,000 Georgian lari. The leader of the United National Movement opposition party has refused to pay the bail.

News i

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