The United States Embassy is deeply concerned by the government’s decision to detain the head of a major opposition political party at the party’s headquarters this morning. We regret that the call of the United States and other international partners for restraint and dialogue was ignored. We are dismayed by the polarizing rhetoric from Georgia’s leadership at a time of crisis. Force and aggression are not the solution to resolving Georgia’s political differences. Today, Georgia has moved backward on its path toward becoming a stronger democracy in the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.
The decision of Tbilisi City Court Judge - Nino Chakhnashvili announced on February 17 of the current year, to use the norm of detention against Nikanor Melia has been executed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs – Nikanor Melia is detained.
The law enforcers warned the citizens gathered in front and inside the office of the “United National Movement" located on the Kakheti Highway, Tbilisi, not to obstruct the representatives of the police in the execution of the court decision and gave a reasonable time.
Despite numerous warnings from the side of the Ministry on the spot, the gathered demonstrators at the party office did not obey the lawful request of the police and offered resistance to the law enforcement officers.
Thus, the police applied coercive measures and special means provided by law to enforce their official duties entrusted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the court.
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.
The Parliament of Georgia has expressed a vote of confidence to Irakli Garibashvili as Prime Minister of Georgia and the new composition of the Government.
The supreme legislative body of the country has unanimously supported the Government of Georgia led by Irakli Garibashvili and cast 89 votes for the Governmental Program branded as For Building a European State.
Two new portfolio ministers will be joining the new government. Juansher Burchuladze will be the Minister of Defense and Irakli Karseladze will serve as a Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure.
Seven ministers remain unchanged: David Zalkaliani as a Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gocha Lordkipanidze as a Minister of Justice, Vakhtang Gomelauri as a Minister of Internal Affairs, Natia Turnava as a Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ivane Matchavariani as a Minister of Finance; Mikheil Chkhenkeli as a Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports; Levan Davitashvili as a Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture.
Press Service of the Government Administration