UNM Chair Melia Comments on Saakashvili’s Arrest

United National Movement Chair and Tbilisi mayoral hopeful Nika Melia slammed the Georgian Dream government and stressed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili had “every right to arrive in his own country.”

In a briefing held shortly after Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced Saakashvili’s detention, Melia stressed the GD government should not have “humiliated themselves and the country” by declaring the former President as wanted.

Arguing that being in prison is not a problem for the ex-President, Melia stressed Saakashvili knew he would be arrested after returning from Ukraine, but consciously took the step anyway.

“Mikheil Saakashvili did what he said he would,” noted Melia, adding “this was a self-sacrificing move, he gave up his freedom to defeat the regime.”

He called citizens to vote for any political group except the Georgian Dream in October 2 polls, and vowed Saakashvili would be released “after tomorrow’s victory.”

Saakashvili, who left the country in November 2013 amid the end of his second presidential term, was wanted by the Georgian Dream government on multiple charges.

He was sentenced in absentia in 2018 on two separate abuse of power charges – three years for pardoning the former Interior Ministry officials, convicted in the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani and six years for organizing an attack on opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili

He is also charged with misappropriation of public funds and exceeding official authority in the 2007 anti-government protests case. Former President denies all the charges as politically motivated.

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