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Police officers near club Bassiani, May 12, 2018. Photo: Eana Korbezashvili/Civil.ge

Police Raids Two Night Clubs, Arrests Eight

Police officers raided two leading Tbilisi-based clubs Bassiani and Cafe Gallery, allegedly following the leads regarding the dealing and use of club drugs.

The police entered the night clubs at around 1 am today, with video footage from the scene showing armed officers moving into the premises to conduct drug sweeps.

The Interior Ministry reported shortly afterwards that the spot checks were sanctioned by the court, and that its officers had “apprehended eight drug dealers.”

“The Ministry has been conducting intensive investigative measures for the last three months for establishing facts of drug trade in Bassiani and Gallery night clubs,” it also noted.

Several hundred clubbers gathered outside both locations, with some telling journalists that police officers used disproportionate force against them. Few also alleged police officers could have planted drugs during searches.

Around two dozen protesters were arrested by police officers near the clubs, as they tried to seal off the nearby streets. Later, both groups moved to the Parliament building, where few more protesters were detained after standoff with police.

The action ostensibly comes as part of the government’s response to address the increasing drug-related deaths over the past two weeks. It is inscribed, however, in a wider picture of activist and political groups contesting what they see as an overly repressive drug policy.

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