EU posts bail for release of Georgian opposition leader Nika Melia
The EU has posted a bond of 40,000 lari [approximately $12,000] for one of the leaders of the Georgian opposition, Nika Melia, to be released. The court is expected to make a decision on May 10.
“The pledge was made after political parties in Georgia reached an agreement on April 19 through the mediation of the European Council. We sincerely thank two independent organizations that agreed to provide financial support in this process: the European Endowment for Democracy, which provided funds, and the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA),” the EU said in a statement.
This decision was called “another important step to end the political crisis in Georgia and the implementation of the April 19 agreement. It is hoped that this will encourage all MPs to join the agreement and contribute to its implementation.”
A version of the agreement was prepared and submitted to the parties for consideration by the President of the European Council Charles Michel, and in Georgia this agreement is now informally referred to as the “Michel document”.
The document is called “The Future Path for Georgia” and differs in a number of important details from the previous document, which was proposed on March 31 by the representative of the President of the European Council Christian Danielson.
In particular, the new document proposed a different approach on two points that were most contested by the opposition and the authorities in the country: the release of people arrested for political reasons (Nika Melia and Giorgi Rurua) and early parliamentary elections.
Only two opposition parties, United National Movement and European Georgia, did not sign the document. Although individual or former members of these parties put their signatures.
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The Nika Melia case
Nika Melia is the chairman of the former ruling United National Movement party, which was founded by ex-Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is now outside the country, as several criminal cases have been opened against him.
Melia is charged with organizing a large-scale rally in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi on June 20, 2019, during the visit to Georgia of Russian legislator Sergei Gavrilov.
In 2019, the court did not arrest Melia. He was released on 30,000 GEL [about $9,000] bail and required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
In November 2020, Melia publicly took off the bracelet, calling it a symbol of injustice.
In response, the prosecution increased the size of the bail by another 40,000 GEL [about $12,000] which Melia refused to pay. This then became the official reason for his detention. Several days before his arrest, THE parliament had stripped Melia of his MP status.
NGOs, as well as the Ombudsman of Georgia and international partners, have drawn attention to what they say are legal issues in the case, and allege it is politically motivated.
A few days before Melia’s arrest, Žygimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Lithuanian parliament and an active supporter of Georgia’s European integration ambitions, visited Tbilisi to try to persuade the Georgian authorities not to arrest the opposition figure.
Later, Christian Danielsson, envoy of President Michel to the EU, came to Georgia on two occasions to mediate the negotiations between the government and opposition. But both his visits proved futile – the government and the opposition failed to come to an agreement.