Georgian PM Gakharia announces his resignation

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Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on Thursday that he is stepping down from his post due to the non-fulfilment of a court ruling to detain the leader of the opposition party United National Movement, Nikanor Melia, an Interfax correspondent reported.

“Unfortunately, I have proved to be unable to secure a collective opinion within our team regarding the execution of the court ruling on the detention of Nikanor Melia, and I have decided to leave my post. I am convinced that polarization and confrontation between us pose the greatest risk to our country, to its future, and to its economic development,” Gakharia said at a press briefing in Tbilisi.

At the moment, steps to execute the decision on Melia will jeopardize the security of a large number of people, which is why this should be done when all of these risks have been ruled out, he said.

Earlier in the day, the police were unable to enter the United National Movement’s office in Tbilisi, where Melia is now. A court ruled earlier to remand Melia in custody.

According to Georgian media reports, some 200 people, among them the leaders of other opposition parties, are currently in the office of the United National Movement. Melia’s supporters intend to obstruct the police operation to detain him.

Melia himself said that he refuses to voluntarily abide by the court ruling on his arrest.

On Wednesday, the Tbilisi City Court ruled in favor of a motion filed by the Prosecutor’s Office to replace Melia’s bail with pretrial detention.

Two years ago, the court ordered Melia, who was stripped of his immunity as a member of parliament, to pay bail of 30,000 lari, or nearly $9,000, and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet as a restriction as part of a case opened into the organization of riots on June 20, 2019, when hundreds of radically-minded opposition activists tried to break into the headquarters of the Georgian parliament.

Melia was again elected to parliament in October 2020. At an opposition rally on November 1, he publicly removed the electronic bracelet from his wrist and threw it into the crowd, a move that prompted the court to revise its previous decision and increase the size of Melia’s bail by another 40,000 lari, or around $12,000, in November. The court ordered Melia to pay his bail within 50 days. The opposition leader, however, did not do so.

The Georgian Interior Ministry, in turn, has called on opposition supporters not to hamper Melia’s detention.

© 2021 Interfax Ukraine

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