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Tbilisi Mayor Initiates Football Match between Georgians and Abused African Students

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, April 11
Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze has asked the Head of Football Federation, Levan Kobiashvili, to organize a football match between Georgians and African students, abused by Beliashvili street locals on April 8 at the stadium in Tbilisi.

Kaladze said the incident was “very unpleasant”, adding the investigation will reveal what happened on Saturday evening.

“Tbilisi is the most tolerant city ... what happened at the stadium was very bad. We, Georgians do not have such approaches ... Everyone, who has wish, can get involved in this game. It would be nice if we forgot about this incident,” the Mayor stated, adding he will also take part in the match.

The confrontation between Nigerian students and Tbilisi residents happened at one of the stadiums in Dighomi district. According to the students, the Georgians urged them to leave the stadium immediately.

“We offered them to join the game or to give us some time, but they became aggressive and started physically and verbally abusing us because of our skin color,” one of the African students told Rustavi 2 TV.

The students also took the video of the confrontation, which became viral and caused various reactions among Georgians.

The victim also said the law enforcers did not react properly to the fact.

The lawyer of the foreign students, Shota Tutberidze says the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched an investigation into the case under Article 126 of Criminal Code of Georgia, pertaining to physical violence. He claims that the investigation should be continued under Article 142, pertaining to racial discrimination.

Local witnesses say the brawl was initiated by the students.

Giorgi Jikurishvili, captured in the video, says that he really asked the students to leave the stadium because they did not let the children play there.

“When I asked them to leave, they did not pay attention to me and when I urged them again, they hit me. One of them was very aggressive,” Jikurishvili says.

14 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) based in Georgia, also commented on the incident. They say the video, filmed and published by the attacked students, shows racist statements and motions from the Georgians.

The NGOs also addressed the Prosecutor’s Office, urging them to thoroughly study the case, and called on the MIA to take proper measures in order to hold all aggressors responsible.

Moreover, they addressed the government to launch “a strict anti-discrimination policy in Georgian educational institution in order to eliminate similar discriminatory practices in future.”