Georgian police arrest the opposition leader Nika Melia after storming the United National Movement party offices in Tbilisi. Irakli Gedenidze-Reuters

Transparency International has condemned the arrest of opposition leader Nika Melia.

The rights body said it believes the raids on the offices of the United National Movement opposition party and arrest of its leader will only worsen the current political crisis in the country.

“We believe that the Georgian authorities could have defused the situation by legal and non-violent means. Regrettably, the authorities did not wait for the consideration of Melia’s appeal in the Court of Appeals and did not demonstrate the will to defuse the difficult situation and conduct the political process in a calm environment,” a press statement from the group says.

The political crisis in the former Soviet country worsened as Georgian police breached the country’s opposition party headquarters, using teargas and batons, arrested their leader and about a dozen others and slammed criminal charges on them.

Local media showed Mr. Melia being dragged out from the building. He is being charged with inciting violence at 2019 anti-government demonstrations when protesters stormed parliament. He faces up to nine years in prison.

Georgia, which fought a short war with Russia in 2008, has sought to join the NATO military alliance and has received billions of dollars of support for its military, democratic institutions and civil society.

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