News

Opposition athlete stopped on the way to rally

by | Aug 5, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – Police have taken possession of a car belonging to Zurab Zviadauri, a Georgian who won gold in judo in the 2008 Olympics and now is a supporter of the opposition.

Zviadauri was stopped yesterday while on his way to Batumi to attend Sunday’s mass rally of the Georgian Dream coalition; the strongest opposition bloc ahead of the October 1 parliamentary election.

“I had one police car after me from Tbilisi. Another car took over for the first one due to the zones. I stopped my car near a diner. Then the police car approached. The policemen thought I was drunk. They checked me whether I was drunk or not, and then asked for my registration, which I didn’t have. They checked my ID and driver’s license. Then they called for a tow truck and ordered two persons to take the car into possession. I refused and followed after the car to the Gori possession area,” Zviadauri said.

Police told Zviadauri that he can’t drive his car without a registration and fined him 100 lari. The incident happened on the highway 150 km away from Tbilisi.

Zviadauri believes his car was taken for political reasons.

Last year, the interior ministry changed the law so that Georgian citizens do no longer have to bring driver’s license and registration while driving. They only need a valid ID, and the police will look up the rest from a computer terminal in the police car. It is unclear whether the police had legal basis for taking possession of Zviadauri’s car under the new law.

He has previously reported being subjected to political harassment because of his opposition sympathies. He said a customer rebellion at a construction company he owns was staged by ruling party activists, he said a sports hall in Akhmeta named after him was renamed and his picture taken down from the wall, and he has said the sports minister once said he wanted to electrocute him.



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