The upheaval in Georgia’s Capitol, Tbilisi has subsided some after nighttime and peak time drug raids on two popular techno clubs caused outrage and protests by opposing sectors of society. One of the clubs, Bassiani, is now under threat of foreclosure, according to the club.
Bassiani was raided on the morning of May 12 by heavily armed police officers during a night when it was open under the pretext of a drug sting. Café Gallery was also raided that night. Bassiani’s owners were held for a few hours before being released and have been at the front of protests against the government’s heavy-handed tactics.
The parliament-appointed public defender, Nino Lomjaria, claimed the suspects were actually arrested earlier in the evening, not inside the clubs, as the ministry had said.
The episode has exposed deep cultural divides in the former Soviet Republic as protestors came out onto the streets in support of the club and a more liberal society. The techno clubs are seen as a safe space for the LBGTQ community in a country that is not very accepting of them. Far-right counter-protestors also organized on the streets against those ideals and the clubs, with some of them throwing up Nazi salutes.
Bassiani has set up a donation fund for money that will go towards a “Legal battle and to stop state oppression.” They go on to write, "Behind the Bassiani helmet stands an angry warrior, who fights for the new ideas and who won't back down from the struggle for freedom. We won't stop and will continue to fight against the unjust system and inequality. Thank you very much for your unconditional love and support. In this war for ideas and values our only hope is our truth and people, who have always stood with us."
Read the full statement below.