More than 240 people were injured last week as police fired rubber bullets and water cannons to turn back crowds trying to enter the parliament building. The prosecutor's office has said that witness testimony indicated Melia called on protesters at the first demonstration to storm the building and to fight police.
The protests in Tbilisi were set off by the visit of an official Russian delegation to the parliament and later expanded to demand snap parliamentary elections. Protesters gathered again on Thursday evening for the eighth straight day of demonstrations. Hundreds of them marched to the residence of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire who heads the governing Georgian Dream party, to demand the resignation of the interior minister in connection with the harsh police actions last week.
The minister defended his actions in comments to Georgian TV journalists. "From 7 to 10 in the evening the action took place without excesses, but then certain groups began to behave aggressively, it became clear that they were going to storm the parliament ... after that, when there was a danger to the lives of the police and the storming of the constitutional institution, which is the parliament, special means were used," Georgy Gakharia said.