Thousands Protest In Georgia After Opposition Leader Arrested


Thousands protest in Georgia after opposition leader arrested

Tbilisi, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 23rd Feb, 2021 ) :Thousands of anti-government protesters rallied in Georgia on Tuesday after the arrest of an opposition leader, deepening a political crisis that erupted after disputed elections last year.

Hundreds of riot police used tear gas against Nika Melia's supporters who were camped out at his United National Movement party's headquarters in the capital Tbilisi before he was arrested in an overnight police raid and placed in pre-trial detention.

The move sparked swift condemnation from the opposition and Western diplomats, as fears mount over the ex-Soviet nation's fragile democracy.

In the afternoon, several thousand anti-government protesters rallied outside the parliament building in central Tbilisi to denounce Melia's arrest and demand early elections.

They also blocked traffic along the city's main thoroughfare.

"We urgently need free and fair elections to get rid of a government that is destroying democracy," Ilia Togonidze, a 20-year-old student, told AFP at the rally.

Scores of Melia's supporters were also detained in the morning raid and the leader of the opposition Lelo party called for "a peaceful, unwavering struggle to defend Georgian democracy".

"Liberation of political prisoners and snap parliamentary elections are the only possible way out of the crisis," Mamuka Khazaradze said, speaking to journalists on behalf of all opposition leaders.

At the afternoon rally, opposition leaders called for a mass protest march in Tbilisi on Friday.