European Parliament member Michael Gahler: Georgian Dream, UNM should make compromise on UNM Melia’s release

  • MEP Michael Gahler has spoken with the Georgian TV Pirveli media outlet., 3 Apr 2021 - 20:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Michael Gahler says the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition United National Movement (UNM) should reach an agreement on the release of UNM leader Nika Melia from the detention facility if he will wear a monitoring bracelet again. 

Speaking with TV Pirveli media outlet Gahler, who is the member of the Group of the European People's Party, said the cases of opposition leader Melia and co-founder of Mtavari Arkhi media outlet Giorgi Rurua - whom opposition call ‘political prisoners’ - has better be separated. 

Gahler said while in the case of convicted Rurua the option is the presidential pardon, in Melia’s case he needs to post the bail to be released from the detention. 

Saying that the attempted raid on the parliament back in 2019 and the consequent refusal to wear the monitoring bracelet was the provocation from Melia, Gaher believes the opposing sides should try to find an agreement over his release. 

  • UNM leader 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. 

Melia was arrested on February 23, 2021 for his refusal to pay 40,000 GEL of his 70,000 GEL bail which sparked further political tension in the country and pushed the opposition to the street again. 

His release is one of top demands of the opposition, along with the conduct of repeat parliamentary elections, in the currently ongoing EU-mediated talks between the ruling party and the opposition.