End of February, police raided the headquarters of the opposition United National Movement party in Tbilisi, Georgia, to arrest its chairman, Nika Melia. The raid and the arrest, which were broadcast live and videotaped by observers, plunged the eastern European country into deep political crisis. Given Melia’s long-standing role as a thorn in the side of the ruling party, Georgian Dream, her detention appears to be a politically motivated show of force to intimidate critics of the government. The move sparked outrage in Georgia, the European Union and the United States, where members of the United States Congress and human rights organizations have expressed concern.
The incident raises clear questions about Georgia’s democratic trajectory. For nearly two decades, the former Soviet republic was hailed as one of the region’s most successful democracies. However, a closer examination of political developments since its 2003 “Rose Revolution” reveals repeated oscillations between democratic promise and authoritarian retreat.
The country is now experiencing another of these fluctuations. Melia’s arrest could also complicate President Joe Biden’s renewed efforts to prioritize human rights in US foreign policy, as Georgia would normally be a natural partner in promoting political reform and a likely participant. at the summit on democracy planned by the administration.
The hostility between the United National Opposition Movement, or UNM, and Georgia Dream, or GD, is …
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