TBILISI, DFWatch–For the last few days people have been reporting that the police have stopped them in the street and searched them. Some have also been taken to the local police station for further questioning.
The incidents have taken place mainly in the capital. In social networks people call them ‘raids’, as the incidents have increased in frequency.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs says these are ‘preventive measures’ and apologizes to citizens.
Kakha Urdiamkopeli, from Transparency International Georgia, wrote on his Facebook page that he was stopped by police with two of his friends in the yard of the Technical University in Tbilisi. They were forced to leave the car and were asked their names, address, and had their documents and the car checked.
“After they learned about my profession they became softer and left as they didn’t find anything against the law,” he writes.
Urdiamkopeli says the same evening, at about 23:00, he was checked once again going through the same procedure, the only difference was that next time police took their pictures.
People wrote their stories on forums and social networks how police stopped them. A reporter for Tabula TV was also searched and police deleted the video on his camera. Then let him go.
“I was in my car on Saburtalo Street. Police stopped us and asked to show IDs, checked our pockets, bags and car. They didn’t explain to us the reason for the search,” IPN quotes another citizen saying.
Some of the people wrote that the police didn’t wear a uniform and that they only learned it was the police after they were taken to the police car or police station.
On Monday, a few days after people started reporting these stories, the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement which says that the measures are preventive and they apologize for the inconvenience.
“We want also to report that after a few days of preventive measures, the police confiscated tens of illegal weapons,” the statement. “We call on everyone to stop making statements which discredit the police.”
The day before, Givi Targamadze, MP from the National Movement, held a press conference and presented videos that show the police searching cars and people. He said that those events prove that the crime situation has gotten worse in the country and that the latest statistics from the Ministry of Internal Affairs is false.
“Raids, stationary checkpoints are absolutely useless method to fight crime and it only takes us back to the Shevardnadze period,” he said. “It harms kind citizens and creates problems for free movement, violates the reputation of the police in the eyes of citizens and creates corruption. Our citizens have had a difficult experience with this.”
Giorgi Margvelashvili, the Georgian Dream coalition’s candidate for president, responded during an event in a region outside the capital.
“The Interior Ministry’s activity is proportional to the process, when crime is reduced. Crime will get reduced, because the ministry is working. This is logical, in my opinion,” he said.