One Detained for “Assaulting Police Officer and Damaging Property” during March 7-9 Rallies

The Georgian Interior Ministry reported on March 29 that police had arrested a man for “assaulting a police officer and damaging another person’s property by setting it on fire” during the 7-9 March rallies against the ruling majority’s “foreign agents” laws.

According to the Interior Ministry, the detainee threw stones and Molotov cocktails at a police officers during the protest rally, injuring police officers. He also allegedly set fire to the car belonging to the Interior Ministry.

The investigation was opened under Articles 187 and 353 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisage imprisonment for seven to eleven years.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the investigation is continuing with the aim of arresting all those who assaulted police officers and committed other violations..

Law enforcement officials detained a total of 134 people during the March 7-9 protests, including 133 on administrative charges and one on criminal charges. Those detained on administrative charges were released on March 9. Many of them are still awaiting trial. Only one person detained on criminal charges, accused by the Ministry of Interior of assaulting a police officer, remained in custody.

What do we know about the detainee?

The detainee is a 21-year-old Lazare Grigoriadis, who was officially charged by the prosecutor’s office on March 30. The Tbilisi City Court sentenced him to pretrial detention on March 31. Grigoriadis continues to exercise his right to silence.

The detainee’s defense lawyer said that Grigoriadis was detained late on March 29, when he left his friend’s house. The lawyer also noted that the detainee’s arrest was “unexpected”, because he had not been summoned by the police for questioning.

The detainee’s friend said that after Grigoriadis left his house, the police came and searched his apartment. They looked for his clothes and his mask. “I tried to contact Lazare after the police left, but he did not answer,” the friend added.

The Interior Ministry said that Lazare Grigoriadis had previously been charged with disobeying police and a criminal offense. Pro-government POS TV reported on March 30 that Grigoriadis had been convicted of using violence against his father and that he was a member of the Droa party.   

The detainee’s father wrote a post on Facebook yesterday, denying all allegations and urging the government not to turn young people into its enemies.

Commenting on the detention of Lazare Grigoriadis, Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling party, said that “it is precisely such people who use violence against police officers… it must be properly evaluated.” Kobakhidze claimed that “this young man with messed up orientation is linked to the ‘Bolshevik troika’ of Zurab Japaridze, Elene Khoshtaria and Giorgi Vashadze. It shows that he was driven by concrete subjective interests,” he said.

Elene Khoshtaria, leader of the Droa party, denied any links between her party and Grigoriadis, but noted that they would defend any protester targeted by the government. The same was said by Giorgi Vashadze.

Note: This article was updated at 13:56 on March 31, 2023 to reflect new details about the detainee.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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