Opposition holds protest in downtown Tbilisi, raises demands, says protests will continue

  • Opposition parties say that rallies will continue until the current state government fulfills their demands. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

Agenda.ge, 26 Feb 2021 - 16:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian opposition parties which took to the street following the recent arrest of the head of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party Nika Melia are now holding a protest in downtown Tbilisi on Rustaveli Avenue. 

They say that protests will continue at parliament, the administrative building of the government of Georgia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and at Tbilisi City Court until Melia and the co-founder of the opposition-minded Mtavari Arkhi TV channel Giorgi Rurua are released, and repeat parliamentary elections scheduled.

The opposition says that the next rally will take place on March 2 at the parliament of Georgia. 

After the parliament opposition has plans to hold rallies: at the administrative building of the government of Georgia (on March 5), at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (on March 9), at Tbilisi City Court (on March 11) and again at parliament (on March 13). Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

Melia, who is charged with incitement to violence during the June protests in Tbilisi back in 2019, was arrested earlier this week for refusal to post bail.

 He has sent a letter from prison for today’s rally where he said that ‘I have never been so free,’ and urged people to ‘fight to the end for freedom.’ 

Melia’s arrest sparked further political tension in the country. 

The opposition parties which have been demanding repeat parliamentary elections since November 2020 took to the street again this week, demanding the release of Melia and repeat parliamentary elections. 

The international community has urged political parties in the country to deescalate the situation and negotiate. 

Opposition is also demanding the release of Giorgi Rurua. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

The Prosecutor’s Office said that Melia publicly violated his bail conditions in November 2019 and also publicly refused to post the additional 40,000 GEL which was added to his initial, 30,000 GEL bail for publicly removing his surveillance bracelet. 

The Prosecutor’s Office said yesterday that if Melia posts bail, they will request his release.

Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said that ‘Melia is a criminal’ and that everyone in a democratic state is equal before the law. 

Melia has been found guilty in the Cartu Bank case and earlier today, Georgian police arrested him in a special operation for another case he is charged in. During the June 2019 protests Melia encouraged people to engage in violence and tried to break into the parliament building,” Garibashvili said. 

Later he addressed the nation saying that 'today is not the time for division – it is the time for unification.'