DRI: Protesters in Batumi are being illegally detained
The Democracy Research Institute condemns the illegal detentions of the participants in the peaceful protest ongoing in connection with the entry of the ASTORIA GRANDE cruise ship in the port of Batumi and calls on the law enforcement authorities to act within the framework of the Constitution and legislation of Georgia.

ASTORIA GRANDE left the port of Sochi on July 30 as part of a tour. The ship entered the Batumi harbor on July 31, at 5:00 am. On July 30, the police blocked all the sections in Batumi from which the harbor could be reached. It was publicly known that students, activists and representatives of the opposition parties were planning to hold a rally to protest the arrival of the cruise ship from Russia in Batumi. 

According to media reports, law enforcement officers had detained about ten oppositionists by 4:00 am. By 10:00 am, three more activists had been detained.

According to the information available to the Democracy Research Institute, Grigol Beselia, Director of the Adjara Regional Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, is personally in charge of detentions, and he is accused of violence through a photo spread on social networks. According to one of the participants in the rally, he hit a girl participating in the rally in her face. In the past, Grigol Beselia was also accused by citizens of planting weapons. Davit Maghradze, Head of the Adjara Main Division of the Patrol Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, is also personally involved in the detention of activists. Davit Maghradze and Grigol Beselia have distinguished themselves many times in the past in organizing and personally carrying out alleged illegal detentions during anti-Russian protests.

For the purposes of Article 21 of the Constitution of Georgia and Article 2 of the Law of Georgia on Assemblies and Demonstrations, when exercising the constitutionally recognized right to assembly, both indoors and outdoors, gathering is permitted without prior permission. According to Article 245 of the Administrative Offences Code, the law enforcement officer is obliged to inform the detainee, in a way that he can understand, of the following: the administrative offence committed by him and the reason for his arrest, the right to a lawyer, and the right to notify a person named by him of his arrest and whereabouts, if he wishes so.

The non-fulfilment of legal obligations by the law enforcement officers during the detention of participants in a peaceful assembly, as well as the unjustified, illegal and disproportionate use of violence by them, is alarming. DRI believes that politicized and repressive illegal detentions undermine the constitutional order of the state.

DRI calls on:
  • The Ministry of Internal Affairs - to act within the framework of the Constitution, to stop using police violence as a tool of political repression and to respect the freedom of expression and assembly.
  • The Special Investigation Service - to immediately launch an investigation into the cases of alleged violence committed by the law enforcement officers.