Nika Melia arrested Photograph:( Reuters )
This has led to further deepening of the already existing political crisis that had started specifically after last year's disputed parliamentary elections
In a dramatic arrest, Georgian police arrested the leader of the United National Movement — the main opposition party — from his party headquarters.
Nika Melia was seen being dragged from his party headquarters, on Tuesday, to be placed in pre-trial detention, as shown in Live television's footage.
This has led to further deepening of the already existing political crisis that had started specifically after last year's disputed parliamentary elections.
As the Court ruled to arrest @NikaMelia5, Chair of @UNMGeorgia the footage shows Special Forces being mobilized while the Court hearing was still ongoing and before the decision was announced pic.twitter.com/rg5K4iSPmI— UNM Georgia (ენმ) (@UNMGeorgia) February 18, 2021
The local police also used tear gas on the supporters of the opposition and several leaders of various opposition parties who had been camping out in the building since Wednesday.
"Shocked by the scenes at UNM headquarters this morning," said Mark Clayton, the British ambassador. "Violence and chaos in Tbilisi are the last thing Georgia needs right now. I urge all sides to act with restraint, now and in the coming days."
@UNMGeorgia Chair @NikaMelia5 has been arrested this morning in a police raid of the party HQ involving hundreds of patrol police and special forces. Pepper spray was used against the opposition leaders and supporters pic.twitter.com/7XL0nzg4xq— UNM Georgia (ენმ) (@UNMGeorgia) February 23, 2021
This dramatic arrest and usage of tear gas have come a few days after Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigned over ruling party Georgian Dream's plans to arrest Melia.
The opposition had called for snap parliamentary polls after the news of Gakharia's resignation from the position.
For now, Melia has dismissed all accusations of "organising mass violence" during the anti-government protests in 2019 as politically motivated.