On February 16, the Parliament of Georgia voted to strip the United National Movement (UNM) party’s Nika Melia of his parliamentary immunity, paving the way for the possible imprisonment of the largest opposition party’s Chairperson.
Below is a compilation of some of the reactions from members of the ruling Georgian Dream party and the opposition following the Parliament’s decision:
Ruling Party Reactions
Mamuka Mdinaradze, Georgian Dream Parliamentary Faction Chairperson: “If one observes these processes somewhat objectively, […], I guarantee you, they will not be able to make a single argument, except for general, political, speculative arguments, especially not a legal one, on why the Georgian Parliament today should not have supported [stripping Melia of his immunity], when the person [Melia] directly says, ‘I am going beyond the legal framework,’ and refuses to post bail imposed on him by the court. Why shouldn’t the Parliament lift his immunity at this time?”
Anri Okhanashvili, Chairman of Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee: “Today, we did not make a decision regarding Nika Melia’s [criminal] guilt and whether or not he committed the accusations that the prosecution is alleging. Instead, we made a decision [to permit] the prosecution to submit a motion to Court, to replace the bail with a stricter restraining measure – pretrial detention…”
Zaal Udumashvili, United National Movement party leader: “We did not expect anything else from the Georgian Dream. They have been announcing [repeatedly] for two days that they would make this decision unanimously, and that is what happened. They [GD MPs] were told to press the button [in favor] and they pressed it, like sheep. The fact that the parliament lifted Nika Melia’s immunity does not mean that they can arrest Nika Melia. We have one [court] trial ahead of us and let’s see if they have enough courage [to arrest Melia]. ”
Badri Japaridze, Lelo party leader: “Unfortunately, I expect that if the Georgian Dream, through the court under its control, decides to arrest Melia tomorrow, it will lead to more protests and, of course, resistance… It is principal for us that politically motivated criminal cases come to an end.
Levan Ioseliani, Deputy Parliament Speaker, Citizens party MP: “At today’s sitting, we [Citizens MPs] told the Georgian Dream very clearly that, […] if they want to actually defuse the political crisis, then what they did today [stripping Melia of immunity] is simply the opposite of that.”