The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation into calls for violence by the Georgian National Unity, a Tbilisi-based group that positions itself as a “fascist” and “right wing national-socialist” organization.
The police announcement follows the May 13 remarks of Giorgi Chelidze, the leader of the organization, voiced at one of the counter-demonstrations against the group of activists protesting the police raids on Tbilisi’s top music clubs.
Chelidze, dressed in black military-style uniform and wearing the insignia of the Georgian Legion, a Georgian military unit under the Nazi Germany, led the rally against what he described as “promotion of drug use” and “gay propaganda” by his opponents.
Several dozens of his followers, mostly youth, joined the demonstration, occasionally giving Nazi salutes and chanting “glory to the nation – death to the enemies.”
Addressing the protesters, Chelidze slammed the opponents’ calls for “civil confrontation,” apparently referring to some of the statements at the White Noise movement rally that the authorities had declared a war on music clubs.
“If anyone threatens us with war, threatens us with civil confrontation, our response will be brutal, and it won’t only be with words; if they decide to shed our blood, ten times more of their blood will be shed,” Chelidze told the group of protesters.
He reiterated the message later as well, warning the opponents: “the more you provoke, pressure and threaten us, the more ruthless and brutal we will be; your agenda will not carry the day here.”
Chelidze also called for the establishment of “civic regiments,” capable of “giving an adequate response to any violent group.” “If we see that our agenda and the security of our society are under threat, we will definitely interfere.”
Public defender Nino Lomjaria commented on the matter on May 15, urging the Interior Ministry to react to the “aggressive actions and calls for violence” by counterdemonstration participants, including the March of the Georgians and “other Neo-Nazi groups.”
The Interior Ministry said in its statement later on May 15 that the probe was launched under article 151 of the Criminal Code, dealing with threats of death or bodily injury and punishable by fine or community service from 120 to 180 hours or corrective labor for up to a year or with imprisonment of up to a year.