Georgian opposition leader faces arrest after parliament revokes MP status
One of the leaders of the Georgian opposition United National Movement Nika Melia faces arrest after the Georgian parliament decided on February 16 to revoke his parliamentary immunity.
The prosecutor’s office asked the parliament to suspend his immunity; the decision was made almost unanimously, with 88 votes for and two against (both of which came from the opposition).
The parliament consists almost entirely of ruling Georgian Dream party MPs, as almost all opposition MPs have boycotted the parliament, claiming the elections held on October 31, 2020 were rigged.
Immediately after his immunity was lifted, the prosecutor’s office asked the court demanding the arrest of Melia.
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Party members and activists have gathered at the office of the United National Movement in Tbilisi, saying they will not allow the police to arrest Nika Melia.
“This is not a question of law and order, this is a political request. If they try to capture the opposition leader by force, they will get an answer”, said activist Levan Khabeishvili.
The Nika Melia case
The leader of the National Movement, Nika Melia, is accused of participating in the riots and calling for a storm on parliament on June 20-21, 2019. Then protests began in Georgia, which continued for a year.
On June 26, 2019, parliament suspended Melia’s immunity. On June 27, the prosecutor’s office released him on bail of GEL 30,000 [approximately $10,000] and additional restrictive measures. In particular, Melia was obliged to wear an electronic bracelet that tracked his movements.
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The case was intensified after Nika Melia called the bracelet “a symbol of injustice”, took it off and threw it into a crowd at a large-scale rally in Tbilisi on November 1, 2020. Several thousand people gathered at that rally to protest against the rigging of the October 31 parliamentary elections.
According to the court decision, the amount of bail for Melia was increased to 70 thousand lari, that is, another 40 thousand lari [approximately $15 thousand] was added.
Melia refuses to post bail and says that the court and the prosecutor’s office are “bought by [the oligarch, the shadow ruler of Georgia] Ivanishvili.”
On October 31, 2020 Nika Melia again became an MP in the newly elected parliament. Therefore, the issue of his immunity was considered for a second time.
Since the parliamentary elections in the fall of 2020, Melia, like approximately 50 other MPs elected from the opposition, has been boycotting parliament.
Nika Melia became the chairman of the National Movement on December 25, 2020