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Protesters march to the Rustaveli avenue, May 14, 2018. Photo: Screengrab from TV Pirveli

Religious, Conservative Groups Rally, Demand Tightening of Drug Policy

A group of several radical conservative and religious groups, including the March of the Georgians and the Georgian Idea, held a demonstration in Tbilisi yesterday against what they see as “drug use promotion” and “gay propaganda.”

The demonstration was called in the early hours of May 13, shortly after several hundred clubbers and their supporters rallied against police raids on Tbilisi’s top music clubs. The groups were also active at a counterdemonstration in the evening of May 13.

Around 2,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Tbilisi Concert Hall at 6 pm yesterday and marched towards the Parliament building, chanting “glory to orthodox Georgia” and “Georgia without pederasts,” a slur used for homosexuals.

Sandro Bregadze, one of the leaders of the March of the Georgians, told journalists that they were against “decadent ideas imposed from abroad, with which they occupied the Rustaveli avenue in the last two days.”

Dimitri Lortkipanidze, another organizer of the rally, added that the protesters were against clubs “in their current form: Bassiani and Gallery are gay clubs, where drugs are being sold and the youth are recruited in illegal activities.”

Lortkipanidze added the situation called for “immediate solutions.” “[We will welcome] if the authorities listen to us; if not, we will shut down Bassiani and Gallery ourselves, and will not let them corrupt our future generations,” he said.

The protesters also called for tightening of the immigration and drug laws, and demanded the release of seven “political prisoners,” who were arrested in the March of the Georgians assault on Rustavi 2 TV journalists two months ago.

The organizers also announced they would continue their demonstrations through May 17 – the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), which has been marked by the Georgian Orthodox Church as the Family Purity Day since 2014.

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