Opposition leaders and scores of anti-governmental protesters rallied on February 26 outside the Georgian Parliament building, demanding again the release of “political prisoners” and snap elections.
The protesters first gathered around 13:00 outside the Tbilisi Philharmonic Hall, from where they marched toward the legislative building on Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare.
At the rally, United National Movement leader Khatia Dekanoidze unveiled the opposition’s plans to hold regular protests throughout the next two weeks – a picket of the Parliament on March 2 and of the Government Chancellery on March 5, protest rally outside the Interior Ministry on March 9 and outside the Tbilisi City Court on March 11, as well as another demonstration in front of the Parliament on March 13.
Dekanoidze also read a letter by detained UNM Chair, Nika Melia, in which he called on the opposition supporters to fight “until the final victory.”
Addressing the protesters, the Lelo party’s Badri Japaridze stressed that the political crisis in the country can be resolved by the release of Nika Melia and Mtavari Arkhi TV shareholder Giorgi Rurua, as well as holding snap elections. “This position will not be reconsidered,” Japaridze asserted.
The demonstrators later marched toward the Government Chancellery, where the rally continued.
Georgia’s post-election crisis, with the major opposition parties boycotting the new Parliament took a deepening turn after the Georgian Dream government, following PM Gakharia’s resignation and his replacement with then-Defense Minister Irakli Garibashvili, opted to give orders to the police to storm the UNM party office to detain opposition leader, Nika Melia. Melia, charged with inciting violence during the June 2019 unrests, refused to post additional bail. His original bail payment was increased by the court when Melia threw away the monitoring bracelet during the opposition’s rally, to protest the “rigged” October 2020 general election.
- Opposition Holds Protest, Schedules ‘Large-scale’ Rally on February 26
- Police Storm UNM Office, Detain Nika Melia
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- PM-Designate Garibashvili Prioritizes “Order,” State Intervention in Economy
- PM Giorgi Gakharia Resigns over Melia’s Detention