Nika Melia talking with supporters at an opposition rally in Tbilisi, Novermber, 2020. (Facebook.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The leader of Georgia’s main opposition party faces imprisonment after participating in a protest in 2019. 

The prosecutor’s office asked parliament on Friday to strip Nika Melia of his immunity as a member of parliament.

If parliament agrees – and that is a very likely scenario – then Melia will be remanded in custody next week.

The case concerns the so-called Gavrilov Night protests in July 2019, when police violently dispersed an opposition rally in the capital Tbilisi. Prosecutors allege that the opposition tried to storm the parliament building, and that Nika Melia was one of the politicians who facilitated the storming.

Melia, who was then a member of parliament, was stripped of his immunity by parliament and released on bail with an electronic bracelet.

At a demonstration on November 1, 2020, where the opposition was protesting against the rigging of the parliamentary elections, Nika Melia publicly removed and threw away his electronic bracelet.

The prosecution then demanded an increase in the bail, which was upheld by the court.

Melia, however, refuses to pay the increased bail and insists he cannot tolerate political persecution any more.

“I have paid, my friends, a bail of 30,000 lari. Now they ask me to pay another 40,000, tomorrow they will demand [additional] 100-150,000. Then they will order me to put the bracelet on my neck and, what, shall I obey?! I will not bow,” Nika Melia said.

“This injustice must end, because this revanchist policy of the government violates the foundation of the Georgian state and deprives the country of a real chance to get rid of the Soviet mentality and become a worthy part of the civilized world,” he said.

Although most elected opposition MPs, including Melia, after the October 31, 2020,  election renounced their mandates, they formally held on to their status as MPs, which granted them parliamentary immunity.