Thousands protest in Tbilisi. Photo report
Thousands gather in downtown Tbilisi in protest
Many thousands of supporters of the united Georgian opposition have gathered in downtown Tbilisi for a rally which is unauthorized but which was announced in advance.
The main demands are the release of Nika Melia, the leader of the largest opposition party – United National Movement – and the appointment of early parliamentary elections.
The protesters gathered in the center of Tbilisi near the Philharmonic and headed towards parliament. Opposition supporters from the regions of Georgia joined the rally.
From February 26, a permanent protest will be held in Tbilisi, said one of the leaders of the opposition party European Georgia Gigi Ugulava. He also said that “while parliamentary sessions are underway, the opposition will arrange “corridors of shame and picketing.”
Several tents have been erected near the parliament.
Nika Melia was detained on February 23 as a result of a special operation at the headquarters of the United National Movement party. The arrest of one of the opposition leaders further exacerbated the political crisis in the country, which began after the parliamentary elections in October 2020. The opposition considers the election results to be falsified and does not recognize their results.
Melia’s arrest caused a huge resonance in the global community. Almost all international organizations working in Georgia, as well as ambassadors and Western partners, unanimously condemned the arrest, calling it a step back on the road to democracy. They called on the government and the opposition to dialogue.
Despite the fact that both sides are expressing their readiness to sit down at the negotiating table, so far this does not happen. Before starting a dialogue, the opposition demands the release of political prisoners.