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Opposition Rallies in Tbilisi

The opposition packed the Freedom Square in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the transfer of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili to a civilian hospital, his release and to have the “stolen [local] elections returned.”

Addressing the rally, United National Movement chair Nika Melia pledged that the protest will not stop until the three demands are met.

The rally was preceded shortly by the authorities transferring hunger-striking Saakashvili to the No.18 prison hospital, despite calls by the opposition and the Public Defender’s Office to take the inmate to a multi-profile civilian clinic.

“We will not disband. Tbilisi streets will not be emptied,” Melia asserted, calling on the public to join the protest.

But, the UNM leader warned supporters against protesting outside the prison clinic in Gldani, north-eastern outskirts of Tbilisi, warning it could be perceived as a provocation.

Pointing out that the Gldani prison facility, which hosts the prison hospital, accommodates “the most severe criminals,” Melia argued a protest outside would allow the Georgian Dream party to “stage a riot” in the prison and threaten Saakashvili’s life.

Melia said there would be no other addresses at the rally, and called on the supporters to move to the nearby Government Chancellery and continue the protest there.

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