Georgian Police Storm UNM Office, Detain Opposition Party Leader Nikanor Melia
Georgian Police detained Nika Melia, the largest opposition party leader, in the early morning of February 23 during a special operation at the United National Movement headquarters.
Law enforcers stormed the office building where Melia, fellow opposition leaders and supporters have been gathered following the Court’s February 17 order for pretrial detention.
Varying media reports said police used either tear gas or pepper spray when entering Melia’s cabinet by force, as live footage showed opposition supporters coughing.
“This is the end of this government. We are firm and united in our faith,” Melia asserted in the moments ahead of his detention. The opposition leader called PM Garibashvili and Georgian Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili “traitors,” adding that “no Georgian should be tried in court” for protesting a Russian MP's presence in the country's legislature.
The Interior Ministry said it used “proportional force and special means” during the operation, arguing opposition supporters “resisted” law enforcers despite “numerous warnings.” Law enforcers also detained 21 persons, including UNM member Giorgi Baramidze, under Article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, involving disobedience of police orders.