TBILISI, DFWatch – An opposition activist who first spoke out about the alleged paramilitary groups in Western Georgia has been arrested in Zugdidi.
Vako Avaliani, spokesperson for the opposition Free Democrats party, told DF Watch that that Kakha Mikaia was arrested on Tuesday while protesting the arrest of another opposition activist two days earlier, an arrest also seen as a response to the claims about paramilitaries.
Mikaia was arrested in front of the District Court building during a protest. After a quick hearing, the City Court in Zugdidi sentenced Kakha Mikaia to ten days in jail. Local media reported that he was arrested after the trial of Sergo Chachibaia. During the trial Mikaia called the judge ‘Slave of Akhalaia’. Later the same day the police arrested him during a rally. During the trial, the police stated that Mikaia had failed to obey a police order and was cursing and disturbing the public order on the street.
Sergo Chachibaia, the regional leader of the Free Democrats, was arrested on March 25 also in Zugdidi, a town in Western Georgia bordering Abkhazia.
The Free Democrats are part of a new opposition bloc called Georgian Dream figureheaded by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. A spokesperson for the bloc sees the arrest as political and related to some recent statements made by Free Democrats leader Irakli Alasania. He informed diplomats and journalists in Georgia that the government is setting up illegal paramilitary groups in Zugdidi and may possibly be preparing for a civil war.
The court sentenced Chachibaia to two months pre-trial detention.
Kakha Mikaia is member of League of Voters, one of the opposition parties not part of Ivanishvili’s coalition. He blew the whistle several months ago about the government setting up military units.
Mikaia together with the Free Democrats representatives held a small rally in front of the Court to protest the arrest of Chachibaia. He was arrested during the rally, after which protesters gathered in front of the police station.
The detainee has not had access to a lawyer. A representative of the Public Defender says he feels fine and there is no physical, psychological or any other pressure.
League of Voters, which Kakha Mikaia had a role in establishing, released a statement about his arrest. It draws attention to the fact that Mikaia was one of the first persons saying that government is setting up illegal military formations and his arrest is probably related to this, the statement says.
“The current regime continues punitive measures against people with different opinions,” the movement’s statement says.