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Hundreds Rally in Central Tbilisi after Police Raid Night Clubs

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, May 14
(TBILISI)--Hundreds of people gathered in central Tbilisi on Rustaveli Avenue on May 12 to protest the police raid of two nightclubs in the Georgian capital at 1am of the same day.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that they detained 8 drug dealers before and during the raid. Tens of people were detained for petty hooliganism and disobedience to police in the process of the rally, as the people protested the police actions.

Those who were detained for administrative offices were released shortly, while the eight detainees have been charged for possession and selling of drugs in especially large quantities, envisaging 8-20 years in prison.

The detainees, whose age are between 21-30, state they are innocent and use the right of silence.

The protesters state that the police exceeded its powers and raided people who were in the clubs Bassiani and Gallery for fun.

The people gathered in front of the parliament building under the slogan For Our Freedom in the wake of the night-time clash, demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and the Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia,as well as the change of current “punishment-oriented” drug policy of Georgia.

The Georgian Dream government members say that the police acted against the drug dealers and that the state government supports the development of the night economy.

In its special statement the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that “the eight drug dealers were systematically trading with drug substances in clubs, including Bassiani and Gallery”.

“One of the drug dealers is a member of the club security service. The individual was detained in the club. During his personal search, large quantity of narcotic substances was found ready for sale,” the ministry stated.

The ministry reported that during the last period, everyone has witnessed tragic deaths of young people.

“ It should be noted that in all cases, the facts of death occurred after the visits to the clubs. Besides, demand for the emergency medical services from night clubs has significantly increased. Number of young people, including juveniles, have been transferred to hospitals with the diagnosis of intoxication with narcotic substances,” the Interior Ministry wrote.

The ministry announced that “for the past three months”, the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs have been conducting active operative-search and investigative activities in the clubs located in Tbilisi, including Bassiani and Gallery.

The White Noise movement, which lobbies liberal drug policy, says that a poisonous drug emerged on the black market lately.

The movement believes that the drug was deliberately sold “to affect night clubs.”

The student movement Auditorium 115 stated that the police “just demonstrated force,” as those people, state officials among them, who brought drugs in Georgia, were protected by law enforcers.

The Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said that most of the dealers were detained out of the club territory.

A member of the European Georgian Opposition Elene Khoshtaria stated that through the raid the current Georgian Dream leadership carried out violence on free people.

The President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s parliament secretary Ana Natsvlishvili stated that the parliament commission should investigate the case.