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MIA launches investigation against leader of the Georgian March

By Tsotne Pataraia
Thursday, November 14
The Tbilisi Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has launched an investigation into the actions of Sandro Bregadze, the leader of the “Georgian March” movement in the Public Defender's Office.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the investigation is being carried out under the first part of Article 352 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which implies to impede the Public Defender's activities. Such an act is punishable by fine, either with correctional labor for one to two years or with imprisonment for a term of up to six months to two years.

On November 12, Sandro Bregadze, who went to the Public Defender's Office, accused Nino Lomjaria of only protecting certain social and political groups and threatened to organize a large-scale protest and "take her to the political trash bin":

“Listen, Lomjaria, I will come here with a few thousand people a week and enter this office. No one can interfere with my legal rights. You and your people will be taken out of this office and brought to the proper place, which is a political trash bin,” said Bregadze.

Bregadze demands an apology from Nino Lomjaria. According to her, Nino Lomjaria is only a defender of certain social and political groups and does not deserve the post:

"Mrs. Lomjaria calls us abusive groups and I ask her to apologize for such assessment," said Bregadze.

Among the people accompanying him to the Ombudsman's office was a man who alleges that his underage son was filmed in "And Then We Danced" without his parents knowing about the content of the film.

Lomjaria's deputy, Giorgi Burjanadze, said they had agreed to meet Bregadze. The public defender's statement regarding the responsibility of radical groups in the November 8 events should be discussed at the meeting. As Giorgi Burjanadze explained, they did not know that the juvenile's father was also going to attend the meeting:

“Later, as it turned out, Bregadze announced some action and also said that he was going to make us apologize to him. Naturally, I informed him that there would be no meeting in this format and in this mode,” said Burjanadze.

According to him, the Public Defender will not assist anyone in speculating and recording political scores.

The "Georgian March" is an informal union that unites various far-right organizations. The union became active in the summer of 2017. Individuals or organizations within the union have been distinguished by homophobic and racist expressions and often engaged in violent acts.

Bregadze is one of the leaders of the “Georgian March”. Prior to February 2016, Bregadze served as Deputy Minister of State for Diaspora Affairs and previously held the position of Deputy Minister for Refugees and Accommodation. Being in office he was characterized by homophobic statements. He has often been criticized by NGOs:

“Sandro Bregadze, who while still in office was characterized by extreme aggression against minority groups and his use of hate speech and incitement to violence has repeatedly been the subject of criticism by civil society, stirring xenophobic and racist attitudes in a foreign country in Georgia. In his address, we find pseudo-national sentiments and calls for the population to participate in ethnically Iranian, Arab and African living in Georgia. The so-called “Georgian March” plans to expel people from the country. It is noteworthy that other radical ultranationalist groups have also joined the march," reads the statement released by the motion of NGOs “No To Phobia” in July 2017.