Georgia's opposition returns to parliament after months of boycott 

FILE PHOTO: Nika Melia, chairman of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party, speaks to the media while walking out of a prison after a court ordered his release on bail in Rustavi, Georgia May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze

May 30, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Georgia's largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM) said on Sunday it would return to the parliament after having boycotted it for seven months.

"We have made a decision to end the boycott...This is a right decision, which will surely lead to a change of power," Russia's Interfax news agency quoted UNM leader Nika Melia as saying on Sunday.

Earlier in May, Melia was released from jail after spending more than two months in custody over accusations that he fomented violence during anti-government protests in 2019, charges he says are politically motivated.

Georgia, an ex-Soviet republic with ambitions to join NATO and other Western organisations, has been going through political turmoil since the opposition declined to recognize the outcome of a parliamentary election on Oct. 31 which it said was unfair.

Last month, European Union diplomats brokered a deal to end the crisis, which suggested the release of people arrested for the 2019 protests and an early parliamentary election in 2022 if the Georgian Dream ruling party receives less than 43% of votes in local government elections set for October.

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