The Georgian Democracy Initiative responds to the events that took place in Zugdidi on July 20

The Georgian Democracy Initiative expresses its concern on the events that took place in the city of Zugdidi on July 20, 2013, and in Batumi on July 21 and on the inadequate response to the incidents by law enforcement bodies.

On July 20, 2013, the United National Movement held its planned primary elections in the city of Zugdidi. Before the start of the primary, persons mobilized in the area adjacent to Shalva Dadiani Theatre blocked the area adjacent to the theatre and, as shown clearly by the disseminated footage, began throwing stones and water-filled bottles at representatives of the National Movement and their vehicles.

It should be noted that the police that had been mobilized on the ground managed to set up a cordon which allowed the delegates of the National Movement to enter the theatre. However, the police was not able to prevent violence on the ground.

After the incident, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia made a statement in which he pointed out that the offenders involved in the incident would be punished with the full rigor of law.

Later, the Ministry of Internal Affairs informed the public about the detention of 12 individuals who had taken part in the incident. As made clear by the disseminated information, the aforementioned persons were detained for administrative offences (petty hooliganism) and on July 21 the court imposed a fine of GEL 100 on them and released them directly from the courtroom.

The Georgian Democracy Initiative notes that, unfortunately, the recent period has seen the introduction of an approach where the Police and the Court respond inadequately to various facts of violence and release the offenders in return of a small fine. The manifestation of this irresponsible approach on the part of law enforcers encourages facts of violence and fails to prevent similar violations of law in the future.

It is particularly worth noting that, with the elections coming up, cases of inadequate response to the aforementioned facts in the pre-election period increase the risk of escalation of violence among political opponents.

Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) calls upon the law enforcement bodies to respond immediately and effectively to each such manifestation of violence, make an appropriate legal assessment of acts committed by law enforcers, and qualify them adequately, as well as to apply adequate sanctions.