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Seven Detained as Opposition Pickets Parliament

Opposition leaders and anti-governmental protesters picketed the entrances of the Georgian Parliament building on March 2, leading to seven arrests.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that the protesters were detained under Article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, involving disobedience of police orders.

The picket began earlier in the morning, as opposition leaders decided to stick with their rally plans, despite yesterday’s re-launch of the political dialogue, with the European Union’s mediation.

European Georgia leader Giga Bokeria stressed today the picket would be without “blocking [the Parliament] and physical resistance.” Other key opposition figures, including Lelo’s Mamuka Khazaradze, have also called for refraining from disrupting the state bodies’ activities during the pickets.

Prime Minister Garibashvili reacts

Prime Minister Iraki Garibashvili said the opposition acted “inconsistently” and “destructively” by picketing the Parliament only some twelve hours after the dialogue was re-launched.

With reporters, PM Garibashvili also discussed the key topics raised at yesterday’s meeting. He said that the ruling party “will not and cannot interfere in law enforcement,” to release the detained UNM leader. Instead, Melia can be freed at “any time” provided he pays bail, PM Garibashvili highlighted.

The Georgian PM stressed today as well that the GD refuses to discuss in the mediated talks the issue of holding snap elections, arguing there are no legitimate grounds for the opposition’s demand.

Earlier Developments

After nearly a three-month-long stalemate, the ruling party and the opposition agreed to continue the dialogue yesterday, after the two-hour-long meeting mediated by European Council President Charles Michel.

Major opposition parties have been rejecting the official results of the “rigged” October 2020 parliamentary elections. 54 of 60 opposition MPs are still boycotting the new 150-member Parliament.

In the most recent events, developed in late February, the crisis further deepened after the detention of top opposition leader Nika Melia, only a few hours after PM Garibashvili’s election as Prime Minister. PM Garibashvili replaced Giorgi Gakharia, who resigned after refusing to greenlight Melia’s detention.

UNM’s Melia, charged for inciting violence during June 2019 anti-occupation unrest outside the Parliament, refused to pay additional bail, imposed on him after throwing monitoring tag – as a sign of protest – during one of the post-election rallies in November.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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