Police raid Georgian nightclubs Bassiani and Café Gallery, arrest eight

  12 May 2018    Read: 2339
Police raid Georgian nightclubs Bassiani and Café Gallery, arrest eight

The clubs face a crackdown following five drug deaths in Tbilisi. Bassiani and Café Gallery, the focal points of Tbilisi's thriving dance music scene, were raided by police brandishing machine guns this morning. 

Police officers stormed the club as part of the government's response to drug deaths over the past two weeks, which the authorities say are linked to Bassiani. Georgia has a zero-tolerance drug policy. In Will Lynch's 2016 feature on Tbilisi's scene, Bassiani co-founder Tato Getia said, "In the last couple of months, we have had at least two cases when the police have basically killed innocent drug users." 

"The police entered the nightclubs... with video footage from the scene showing armed officers moving into the premises to conduct drug sweeps," Civil.ge reports. The Georgian news source says the Interior Ministry sanctioned the raids, which led to the apprehension of eight alleged drug dealers. Civil.geobtained the following quote from the government: "The Ministry has been conducting intensive investigative measures for the last three months for establishing facts of drug trade in Bassiani and Gallery nightclubs." 

Clubbers protested outside both nightclubs, some accusing police of disproportionate force or saying they could have planted drugs leading to the arrests. A couple dozen protesters were arrested near Bassiani, with the group then moving to the Parliament building. 

Bassiani posted a photo of the raid to its Instagram, with the caption, "Special forces have blocked BASSIANI, musicians trapped, the right becoming more radical. sos." The club is also updating its Facebook with news from the raid and protest. 

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