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Poet Assaulted During Police Raids

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 26
Famous Georgian poet Zviad Ratianisays he was verbally and physically assaulted by the police late on December 24, on the final day of large scale police raids which covered whole Georgia.

According to Ratiani, he was stopped by four policemen late at night on his way back from his friend’s apartment, because of the color of his coat.

“The people were ordinarily dressed, not in police uniforms, and they disliked the orange color of my coat,” says Ratiani. According to him, about eight policemen verbally and physically abused him.

Ratiani was detained for petty hooliganism and disobedience to the police and was released after 10 hours.

The poet’s statements over the assault have caused the large scale turmoil among poets, writers and the civil sector, demanding the immediate punishment of the police officers involved in the incident.

The trial was scheduled on December 25 and was postponed to January 17 due to Ratiani’s worsening health conditions, Ratiani’s lawyer said.

Lawyer Ani Nasrashvili stated Ratiani suffered from multiple bruises and brain concussion.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has responded to the case shortly, claiming they had a video footage, which reflected how Ratiani, who was drunk, insulted and abused the police.

The Ministry refrained from making the video footage public as it “contained harsh words by Ratiani,” but said the footage will be handed to the court.

Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia claimed if policemen are found guilty, they will face “strict punishment.”

The opposition members advised the ministry to forget about the “outdated” police controls and take steps to genuine police reforms.

According to the Interior Ministry, as a result of the police control, 127 people were detained, various weapons and drugs were seized on December 22-24.

Gakharia claims the raids were undertaken for the crime prevention as the police had information over the alleged provocations for New Year holiday season.