UNM activists and supporters held simultaneous rallies outside local branches of prosecutor’s office in various towns across the country on May 28 to protest against detention of former PM and secretary general of UNM Vano Merabishvili.
Merabishvili was arrested on May 21 and charged with abuse of power, misspending/embezzlement into two separate cases; charges also include bribing of voters. Court in Kutaisi remanded Merabishvili in pretrial detention pending trial. Ex-healthcare minister and current governor of Kakheti region Zurab Tchiaberashvili was charged along with Merabishvili, but unlike Merabishvili he was released on bail.
Calling Merabishvili PM Ivanishvili’s “personal prisoner”, UNM activists have called for the former PM’s release from pretrial detention, accusing the government of politically motivated arrest. UNM says that arrest of one of its leaders aimed at “demoralizing” the party ahead of the presidential elections in October.
Lawmakers from the UNM parliamentary minority group said they would not participate in the parliamentary sitting on May 28.