I would like to tell you the story of my arrest, which goes beyond my personal case and exposes the crimes of the Georgian law enforcement officers that have systematic nature.
On May 17, police officers physically assaulted me in the lobby of the 9th Gldani-Nadzaladevi Police Department (located in the corner of the so-called Kikvidze Park). I will start with why I went to the police station in the first place and how the following events unfolded.
On May 15, a police officer called me and told me there was a notice of fine for me and asked me to pick it up. I told him I’d go as soon as I could. When he called me he introduced himself and told me his name, but I [usually] have trouble remembering names and didn’t prioritize remembering his name as I would only meet him once.
Let me briefly explain what was the letter that I should have received — On March 7, the police arrested me at a rally in support of Ukraine. The rally was organized by the Shame Movement. Consequently, as a member and the executive director of the movement, I am always involved in the process of organizing the rally. The rally, at first glance, ended peacefully. We, the organizers, usually wait for people to start getting back home and leave only after that. As soon as the majority of the people dispersed, I went to get my car to put the big flag of Ukraine and other rally inventory in it. I drove back to the State Chancellery, the site of the rally, stopped the car, got out and saw that police were ardently detaining my friends. I only managed to ask one question to the police officer — What happened? Why are these people being arrested? — He didn’t answer. I was approaching the epicenter of the arrests to find something out. At that time, Kakha Pochkhua (Deputy Chief of Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi Police Department) saw me and shouted at the police officers: “Arrest him, I found him”. As it turned out later, they had received arrest warrants for all rally organizers. They couldn’t find me since I was gone to get the car, but Kakha, joyful with my appearance, happily detained me. This was followed by a trial in which a false witness gave untruthful testimony, no video evidence was presented, I was accused of swearing at and resisting the policemen, despite not even getting a chance to speak and having willingly sat in the police car with them. Judge Manuchar Tsatsua fined me GEL 2,800 in the name of enforcement of justice.
This is the fine I was to receive along with the court order. This is why I was called to go to the police station and pick up both documents. It is also a strange circumstance that the police were instructed to hand me a court decree personally. Usually, the post office has a 2 months deadline to deliver it and if they fail to do so, the document will then be sent to the police. Less than a month has passed since the adoption of the court order. Nobody came from the post office and there wasn’t even a sticker left to inform me about attempted delivery. This issue will be addressed and we plan to request my parcel delivery history from the Georgian Post.
I could not manage to go to the police station until May 17. I visited the police station around 5:00 PM on May 1, which is about 1 km from my apartment. I called the police officer on the same number he contacted me with before. I told him if he was at the site, I would arrive in 5 minutes to pick up the documents. He agreed and told me he was waiting for me. I stopped the car on Bezhanishvili Street, called him again, and said I was going into the police station building. He said he was not at the site and would return soon, meanwhile, I could wait for him at the lobby chair. I was surprised that the circumstances changed so soon, since he told me he was waiting for me just 5 minutes before and when I arrived in 5 minutes, he had already left.
I entered the police station lobby, saw a vacant chair, and sat down without asking anything to anyone.
At that moment, Anzor Gulia, a policeman on duty, approached me and looked at me with disgust from the very beginning. I felt that he didn’t like something, maybe my outfit — it was warm and I was wearing shorts, a green t-shirt and shoes, I had a cap and sunglasses on. I obviously looked like an outsider to the cops dressed in black.
Gulia asked me: “Why are you sitting here?” I explained that I was waiting for a police officer, who had called me himself beforehand, I had to pick up the documents, and he told me to wait. Obviously, I couldn’t get him to like me and asked me unhappily:
– Who called you?
– I don’t know, some police officer called me.
– Is a police officer your ‘’someone’’? – he answered aggressively.
– I don’t know his first and last name, I only have his phone number. I can show you.
– ‘’Stand up and get out now, wait outside’’ – He’s raising his voice now and scolds me, meanwhile people are gathering to watch a scene.
– ‘’Why should I wait outside? He told me to wait here, besides I’m a citizen, this building isn’t yours only, it’s people’s too and I have a right to wait here’’ – I got annoyed too, It was a pride issue now, he was going to kick me out like a dog.
– ‘’You can’t be here with a phone’’ – He made up a new excuse, I was holding a phone since I had called the officer earlier.
– ‘’I’ll keep it in my pocket and wait’’ – I say
– ‘’No, phones aren’t allowed here at all, go outside’’ – he answers
– ‘’Okay, I will hand it over if you have some kind of a vault and wait’’ – I answer
The office of the Deputy Chief of Police was right on left, David Kankava, who came out, which meant that now “heavy artillery” was involved with me in this game of intimidation. He was waving an outstretched hand right in front of my nose, humiliatingly as you have seen it on the street, or not seen it. I sat motionless on a chair. He told me that I am ill-mannered, how did I dare to call a policeman “someone”, and besides, when a policeman is telling me to go, why am I not leaving?
Again, I answered the same as I did to the previous policeman and asked why I had to leave — Because: “I don’t need you for anything here”, – he answered me. It was as if I needed to be there for something.
Once they saw that I was not going to budge, the grouped policemen, dressed in black, grabbed me by the arms and pushed me towards the exit with rough movements. I didn’t resist at all, because they already made body contact, so I followed them along. 3-4 policemen were holding my hand. I already felt that things were happening the way they shouldn’t, as soon as I was taken out, I put my hand in my pocket to take out my mobile so I could start recording. The hands of the policemen didn’t move, even though they had already thrown me out and when I took out my mobile, I tried to keep my distance to record and with a movement of my shoulders I tried to free myself from them. They didn’t like my movements and one of them said: ‘’Why aren’t you arresting him?’’ The other didn’t hesitate and called out to arrest me. Upon hearing this word, the enraged people dragged me inside again, knocked me down, and forcibly put my face against the floor. I shouted that, in obedience, I’m not resisting and don’t treat me like that, don’t drag me. It makes no sense to continue, one grabbed me by the neck, one twisted my hand, and the other did the same to my other hand while I was lying down.
One of them was holding my leg in his hand, turning it sideways. I felt a very sharp pain in my joint and I was roaring that my leg will be broken and asked them to let me go, I didn’t object to anything – I said. They continued to hold me in this form and all of them were cursing at me according to their imagination, as they forcefully cuffed my hands with iron handcuffs behind my back, so that I could feel the pain well.
They put me up on my legs, there was a chair behind me and I was roughly thrown into it. I slammed into my tied hands behind my back and the well-gripped shackles held me even tighter. They kept swearing and I thought, these people have arrested me. But it turns out it was all starting now.
Davit Kankava was standing in front of me, along with one well-built police officer, who’s around 195 cm tall, other 5-6 policemen were standing around with me, some of them were behind me.
Kankava put his head in front of my face and started swearing at me with loath and said: ‘’How did you dare to say “someone” about a policeman, you rude person’’ as he unexpectedly slapped me across the face. I was shocked, I wasn’t expecting this at all. In the police office, in the middle of the day, in the foyer, I was cuffed while he hit me in the face.
This stocky policeman was standing next to him and now he started hitting me on the other cheek with all his might. Then Mr. Davit again. At the same time, they were cursing at me spitefully. I had my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t even cover my face and I raised my knee to somehow cover my face. “Put this knee down, fuck your mother” [they screamed] and [continued doing] the same, hitting me in the face with full strength. Some of them held out a helping hand and attacked me from behind, one of them hit me in the head, repeating – “You ill-raised person, now you will know that a policeman is not “someone” to you”. One of the slaps came to my ear and I suddenly experienced tinnitus in my right ear, [and felt] as if the right half of my face was completely frozen. For two days I heard buzzing, now sometimes it goes away, sometimes it comes back. I have a dull feeling and I hear sounds differently in my right ear, as if less, I snap my fingers here and there to check, but I can’t understand exactly whether it affected my hearing or not.
I was more shocked than in pain, that it was so dark on this bright day at the police station. Once they were satisfied with the beating, they continued swearing and threatening. I raised my head and started searching for the cameras, ‘’because of this [no cameras] everyone should be arrested’’ – I thought. I was surprised that I didn’t notice cameras above my head, as I was sitting in the reception area of the police station. I thought maybe they knew they weren’t being recorded and that’s why they dared to act like this.
I have not even once used any kind of verbal abuse in response. The only thing I was doing (and didn’t stop), was that I was repeating that they were abusers and criminal offenders. I was explaining that even if I had been rude, what they did was a crime. This stocky guy was constantly threatening me that they’d beat me up more and wouldn’t stop. In the end, he said I was crazy and maybe none of this mattered.
I saw the report in court and it says that I was calling them “slaves”, cursing at them and calling them illiterates and uneducated. I did not use any of those words or phrases. I just think they inadvertently concluded from my conversation that they are illiterate and uneducated.
The stocky one told me ‘’when you look at me, [know that], I’ve been working here for 14 years, I rip open asses of the likes of you with my dick, I’m a thief in law, guy of the criminal underworld and a policeman at the same time’’. “You’ve lived a good life then” — what more could I say.
After that, their verbal abuse and threats lasted for about half an hour. The stocky one kept repeating that if I didn’t stay silent, he would take me downstairs and “violate my mouth with his dick’’. At some point, something clicked in his head and ran towards me to hit me but some of them were reasonable enough to stop him. Then he called someone, “Go, go bring it and let’s shave this bastard’s head.” I laughed at where the idea of shaving my head came from. Then added, “shave around his dick”. I was like, damn. The idea of shaving my dick was unbelievable.
Then again this Kankava came and yelled at me, saying: “You faggot, what are you wearing, don’t you know how you shouldn’t come to the police station? Look what you look like, you faggot. Take his photo, look what he looks like, he told the police officers, who then held me up and took a photo of me. But I was dressed fine.
Right after they stopped beating me, I was repeating that my 4-year-old daughter was waiting for me in the kindergarten and I had to pick her up. She had started going to the kindergarten recently and couldn’t stay there for long, as it was already late and I should’ve been there. So I asked them to let me call my brother, to let him know that I was arrested and wanted to ask him to pick her up, so she wouldn’t cry. Every kid would leave by then. I’ve never left her this late before.
I was repeating this for almost over an hour and a half and they were answering that I was arrested under administrative law and didn’t have the right to make a phone call and I could only call when I’d be transferred to an isolation cell. I didn’t give up for an hour and a half. They started asking what was the name of the kindergarten, where was it located, etc. When they were finally convinced, one of them got filled with remorse and allowed me to make a call. I dictated my brother’s number and they called, telling him that I was arrested and that he had to pick up my daughter. Of course, they didn’t allow me to call my lawyer, that was out of the question, but I knew my brother would call him.
They verbally abused me a lot to humiliate me, which makes no sense to talk about now, but they were really trying to give it their all with their imagination. They were threatening me with how they’d see me [outside, without a uniform] and would ‘’fuck my mother’’ (probably means that they would beat me senseless). They told me they knew where I lived and would find me easily, I couldn’t hide anywhere from them. ‘’Okay bro, there’s nothing I can do If that’s what you’ve decided’’ – I said.
They brought in at first glance the youngest, the most confused, shy and the stupidest one of them all, while the other more “experienced” police officer was breathing down his neck and dictating what he should’ve written in the report. There were only 4 sentences when I saw the report, so I didn’t understand what they were trying to compile for over an hour and a half. Joni Samkharadze, the one who wrote the report, wasn’t even participating in my arrest but he was instructed to fill the report, for some reason. When he was writing, I told him they were using him as a false witness and that was a crime. He got stunned for a second, looked up and checked for the cameras. When he made sure there were none [working], calmly continued writing the report. The stocky one chuckled at this ‘’Are you looking at this pussy? What a motherfucker he is.’’
As they finally finished writing the report, they handed me over to 3 young policemen, made me sit in the private car and took me to the pre-detention isolator, in Zahesi. I was sitting in the backseat and the police officers were sitting on my sides. I noticed they were a bit bummed out and uncomfortable. A very uncomfortable young officer was sitting next to me and barely murmured: ‘’I was the one who called you.’’ I chuckled, finally the dots have connected. I asked for his name and said they did all of this because I didn’t know it. He told me it was Nika and I was like ‘’okay, cool.’’ They put the handcuffs in front of me, paid a lot of respect, stopped the car somewhere, let me smoke a cigarette and this Nika told me he would leave me the pack, but I told him they wouldn’t let me bring it with me in the isolator, but he shouldn’t have worried anymore since I ‘’escaped from them’’ and my friends would look after me. They took me to the isolator and handed me over, it’s always quiet there, no one would talk to me improperly or touch me, — from what I and my friends have experienced after all. Jail and the pre-detention isolator are different by the way. I’m not a former inmate.
So, this was the story of my arrest. Why am I telling it? You may remember Luka Siradze, a school student. Detective Mariana Choliani was demanding him admission of guilt, for which purpose they physically abused him in Choloiani’s room and threatened him with getting his brother fired, humiliated him and mentally terrorized him. Luka killed himself after he left the station. Choliani was arrested just for the “public show” and released on parole, 3 years beforehand.
Stories like these are sometimes unbelievable, but it’s what I experienced myself and I know exactly what Luka went through, who unlike me, was locked up in an isolated room and I can only imagine what police officers allowed themselves to do to him. I’m an adult, with a somewhat stable psyche, as far as it’s possible in our reality.
I didn’t feel fear, nor did I take these beasts’ abuse and humiliation personally, but I don’t think it would be this easy for everyone to overcome something like this. I realized a long time ago what I’m fighting against and it’s not possible for them to threaten me with violence. But I can imagine what that stocky guy did during his 14 years working in the police.
And I’m curious, is a policeman still a hero?
They are not even policemen, let alone heroes. They are obedient to the system. Free from accountability, spoiled from power, really illiterate and uneducated people, who can sacrifice you just like that. They’re exactly what this system needs them to be.
We have heroes, who are still fighting and dying in Ukraine to this day, for Georgia, for Ukraine, for freedom. We have the heroes of the August war, Kojori heroes and many more, who actually didn’t want war but chose it over slavery. Therefore, we should know the names of heroes killed in Ukraine:
- Davit Ratiani
- Bakhva Chikobava
- Nikoloz Shanava
- Gia Beriashvili
- Davit Gobejishvili
- Davit Menabdishvili
- Arkadi Kasradze
- Alika Tsaava
- Zaza Bitsadze
- Tato Bigvava
- Rati Shurgaria
- Vitali Orbeladze
And these ‘’police officers’’ are slaves, just like their ‘’patrons’’ and let’s put their first and last names here so sooner or later they can be charged for their crimes: