"Georgia has moved backward on its path to democracy"- the West reacts to Melia's arrest
Reaction of ambassadors in Georgia
Western ambassadors to Georgia and members of the US Congress expressed extreme concern over the events in Georgia. On the morning of February 23, Georgian special forces stormed the headquarters of the main opposition party by using tear gas. Nika Melia, leader of the largest opposition party in Georgia, the United National Movement, was arrested.
A wave of outrage has erupted on Georgian Facebook, and dozens of people are now on the way to the UNM office in Tbilisi. A protest in front of the government building is scheduled for 3 pm.
Strongly negative international reaction
“The United States Embassy is deeply concerned by the government’s decision to detain the head of a major opposition political party at the party’s headquarters this morning. We regret that the call of the United States and other international partners for restraint and dialogue was ignored. We are dismayed by the polarizing rhetoric from Georgia’s leadership at a time of crisis. Force and aggression are not the solution to resolving Georgia’s political differences. Today, Georgia has moved backward on its path toward becoming a stronger democracy in the Euro-Atlantic family of nations”, the US Embassy in Georgia said in a statement.
Michael Carpenter, a foreign policy adviser to US President Joe Biden, reacted to the incident:
“Very sad events are unfolding in Georgia – the storming of the headquarters of the opposition party. I hope more level headed leaders win and a de-escalation of the situation ensues”, Carpenter wrote.
“This is a very concerning move by the Govt of Georgia. Given the tense situation, I call on the Govt to stand down from this dramatic action. We are all watching”, US Congressman Adam Kinzinger posted on his Twitter page.
“Wake up. Ring the bells and take action. Democracy is in danger! (The Georgian authorities) use gas and violence, just like Putin does. Ivanishvili’s regime has to pay for what it has done!”, tweeted Zigimantas Pavilionis, a Lithuanian MP, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament, who has recently visited Tbilisi in order to express support for the Georgian opposition.
“ Shocked by the scenes at UNM headquarters this morning. 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”, UK Ambassador to Georgia Mark Clayton wrote on Twitter.
“In this battle, it will be decided whether Georgia will continue to exist or not” – reaction of the Georgian FB
Toresa Mosi, writer:
“In 1921, exactly one hundred years ago, the Red Army was led by ethnic Georgians. Some people then had the feeling that since there were Georgians on the other side, it was not a big tragedy, and they could negotiate and cooperate with the Bolsheviks. We know how the story ends. This lesson tells us that the fact ethnic Georgians lead these occupying forces does not really matter. The Georgian Dream and its supporters are an occupying force. From this moment on, it is the duty of the free children of this country to treat all police officers, all civil servants as representatives of the occupying forces. In this battle it will be decided whether this country will continue to exist or not, and whether we will become the generation that led Georgia to its end”.
Tamar Chergoleishvili, political commentator:
“Now the boycott is no longer a problem for the opposition.
Georgia has become a country where the leader of the largest opposition force with the highest electoral support is detained for his speeches”.
Giorgi Kadagidze, ex-president of the National Bank:
“This is no longer a matter of political taste. Mass rallies, government resignation, and early elections, this is the only response that freedom-loving people will accept!!!”
Entrances to Tbilisi were closed under the pretext of “bad weather”
Shortly after special forces units stormed the office of the National Movement, the opposition announced a protest to be held in front of the Georgian government building.
The official Facebook page of the Department of Highways announced that all roads leading to Tbilisi are closed due to the bad weather.
A photo of big snow banks and special equipment is attached to the post.
However, in Tbilisi, the typical February weather is dry and windy. No snow, no rain. The air temperature reaches +5 degrees Celsius, and wind speed is estimated at 48 km / h.
The statement appeared on the Highway Department’s Facebook page minutes after the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia.