SOCIETY
The sides meet to launch works on new drug policy and investigate raid at Tbilisi clubs
14 May, 2018
Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia met the members of White Noise Movement, public defender Nino Lomjaria and the representatives of NGO-S to review the details of special operation conducted in Georgia’s popular night clubs Bassiani and Café Gallery.
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Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia meets the member of White Noise Movement

According to him, two working groups will be created to work on drug policy and the developments of May 12.

"Two working groups will be set up –
one will work on drug policy and the second one will study the developments of May 12," - Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia said after meeting with the leaders of the White Noise Movement.

"Two working groups will be set up and one of them will work on drug policy. As you are aware, the state has a number of serious formats with regard to the development of drug policy and this will be a bridge where we will hear our colleagues' opinion in order to be able to answer the existing questions more quickly. The second group will study the developments of May 12, but it will be more delegated to the ombudsman's office. Today, there are no official complaints about abuse of power by police in the ombudsman's office, General Inspection or Prosecutor's Office," said Giorgi Gakharia.
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According to the Minister, two working groups will be created to work on drug policy and the developments of May 12

According to the Minister, the Public Defender’s Office has not received any notification about abuse of power by police on May 12.

"We are ready to discuss all the issues and answer all the questions about the night of May 12. We promised our guests that we would discuss in detail the cases of abuse of power. At the same time, I want to point out that the Public Defender’s Office has not received any notification about the abuse of power by police on the night of May 12, but we are ready to discuss this issue again," Giorgi Gakharia said.
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Public Defender Nino Lomjaria

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said after the meeting with Interior Minister that Ministry of Internal Affairs promised to provide video footage of Friday’s special operation.

As Lomjaria told journalists, she offered the organizers of the protests to file all complaints with the ombudsman’s office.

“Both sides agree that the state should fight against drug dealers. First of all, two groups will be set up, one of which will work on the draft law on drug policy reform.

As for the statements made by certain individuals about abuse of power by police, I think that the role of the Public Defender is important. I offered the organizers to file all complaints with the Public Defender’s Office and we will study each of them. The MIA expressed readiness to provide video footage showing both the detentions of protesters and the special operation," said Nino Lomjaria.

When asked by journalists whether they talked about why special forces broke into the night clubs, the Public Defender said that they had a legitimate right to do so, as they had a court order.

In addition, Nino Lomjaria commented on the counter protest held yesterday and noted that such aggressive people represent one of the serious challenges in the country.
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A picture from the meeting

Davit Subeliani, a representative of the White Noise Movement, said after meeting with Interior Minister that he does not have a feeling that they will get some significant progress.

He said that the topic of today's meeting was to determine the format and content of the next meeting.
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The members of White Noise Movement

"We have not gone into details. In the direction of drug policy, the Minister of Internal Affairs has a vision to make changes in terms of consumption and possession of drugs. We agree that drug trade will remain punishable and fight against dealers will continue. This is not a disputable issue for us either.

However, I do not have a feeling or information that we will get any important progress, especially considering that Kobakhidze said they will submit a new bill, while our bill is the only large good bill.
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The members of White Noise Movement

I have a feeling that they may tell us on Wednesday what they are you going to concede, but I do not expect big changes," Subeliani said.

“If we see that the format of cooperation does not work, we will go back to the street,” stated Beka Tsikarishvili, the leader of the White Noise Movement.

"Today’s message is that we are not going to make any more concession. Yesterday's temporary termination of protests was a compromise. Tomorrow is the day when we will discuss in detail the night of May 12.
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Beka Tsikarishvili, the leader of the White Noise Movement

As for the issue of drug policy, the principal objection was artificially created, as nobody justifies drug trafficking in this country. Fight against dealers is legitimate, but users should not be punished. The starting point for us is a caretaker policy and this message has been voiced today", Tsikarishvili said.

Beka Tsikarishvili is not sure that the government will be able to do its best regarding the reforms, but there is readiness for more openness.
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Over the recent two days May 12-13 Tbilisi city saw a peaceful protest rally in the center of the city

As a reminder, over the recent two days May 12-13 Tbilisi city saw a peaceful protest rally in the center of the city. Part of the citizens expressed their protest against raid that was conducted at Tbilisi’s one of the first and most popular night clubs Bassiani and Café Gallery on May 12. As reported by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the reason behind the special operation was to detain drug dealers who supposed to be at the venues. As it is known 8 people allegedly selling different kinds of drugs were arrested, additionally several dozens of people were detained, who were later released.

The Georgian youth reacted straight away. On Saturday morning, hundreds of people gathered outside the parliament in Tbilisi to express protest and condemn violence.
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Georgian youth's peaceful protest in front of Parliament building. Photo courtesy Zazie Farkas

On the second day of the rally held in front of the Parliament building, Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia came to meet with the organizers of the protest rally, apologized for the raid at clubs and promised to review drug policy. Minister also promised the participants of the rally that he would meet them to start the negotiations and review each detail of the especial operations conducted in Georgia’s popular night clubs, Bassiani and Café Gallery together.

Related stories:

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Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia apologized for the raid at clubs and promised to review drug policy

Citizens protest special operations conducted in Bassiani and Café Gallery clubs

Night raid in Bassiani and Café Gallery – What happened at Georgia’s most popular clubs
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