Ties with Georgian criminal underworld to be criminally prosecuted
Georgia is beefing up its legislation against ‘being affiliated with the criminal underworld’. Cooperating with criminal organisations will become criminally punishable. A set of legislative initiatives has already been presented to parliament by the government.
According to the amendments, ‘being affiliated with the criminal underworld’ will be punishable by imprisonment of seven to ten years instead of the current five to eight. The punishment for so-called ‘thieves-in-law’ will also become more severe: the current seven to ten years may become nine to fifteen.
The tougher legislation will affect not only the criminal underworld, but also any form of cooperation with such groups. For example, inter-group fights among criminal gangs to settle issues between themselves are rather common in Georgia. Now, a person who appeals to a representative of the criminal underworld with the request to ‘resolve’ an argument or issue will be criminally prosecuted.
The current law is able to act only against ‘thieves-in-law’ who have decided to become arbiters of a given dispute.
The legislation of the initiative contains other additions as well. For example, if a ‘thief-in-law’ agrees to cooperate in an investigation of a serious crime, he will be pardoned and absolved of criminal liability.
The Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia had the following to say:
“The criminal mentality and organised crime create serious problems in the country, including for the development of the economy, the implementation of a healthy lifestyle and other aspects as well.”
During a discussion of the legislative initiative, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that: “In Georgia the criminal mentality will never take root … this is impossible. We will act ruthlessly to resolve this issue, because the problem affects the interests of our citizens and their peaceful lives, including the future of our country.”
Belonging to the ‘criminal underworld’ became criminally punishable in December 2005 when parliament approved an amendment to the criminal code of the country with a law on “Organised Crime and Rackets.”
A data set from a well-known Russian site, Praym-krim, asserts that there are currently 431 known ‘thieves-in-law’ in the post-Soviet space, 57% of whom are Georgians.