Grigoridias' rights violated - independent lawyers
Who is Lazare Grigoriadis
The rights of Lazare Grigoriadis, who was arrested for alleged actions while participating in the March 7-9 protests, may have been violated, the Association of Young Lawyers says.
This claim was made by an influential NGO on the basis of publicly available information, giving specific examples of a possible violation of the law in relation to Grigoriadis.
Despite the high public interest, reasons for his arrest were not given in court where the defendant was sentenced.
The Association claims that the presumption of innocence was violated.
Lawyers who visited Grigoriadis reported on April 3 that employees of the investigative department could have forced Grigoriadis to provide them with incriminating information.
On April 3 Grigoriadis’ lawyer also reported that the defendant was forcibly shaved bald. The penitentiary service denied this information, but the Association believes that the detainee’s rights may have been violated.
The organization calls on the Special Investigation Service and the Public Defender to act within their powers.
- “The Fifth Column” and the “Ukrainization Plan”: Prime Minister of Georgia Addresses Parliament
- Why was the Minister of Education changed in Georgia?
- Posters, slogans and jokes at Georgia protests. Photos
Who is Lazare Grigoriadis?
On March 29, police arrested 21-year-old Lazare Grigoriadis on charges of assaulting a police officer and destroying other people’s property during demonstrations against the passage of the controversial “foreign agent law.” He was formally charged in the pre-trial detention center on March 30. On March 31 the city court sentenced Grigoriadis as a measure of restraint to imprisonment.
Grigoriadis is now the only person to have been arrested in connection with the March 7-9 protests. If the prosecution proves that Grigoriadis threw two Molotov cocktails at police officers and set fire to a police car, he will face up to 11 years in prison.
Thousands of protesters gathered in the center of Tbilisi on March 7-9 to protest the law “On Agents of Foreign Influence” adopted by the Georgian Parliament in the first reading. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters for three consecutive days. The protesters used several Molotov cocktails. In the end, the government withdrew the bill and released all the citizens arrested during the rallies.
The prosecutor’s office says that because of the Molotov cocktails thrown by Grigoriadis, two officers had to be hospitalized. The indictment also alleges that the state suffered losses in the amount of 39,000 lari [about $15,000] because of a burned-out car.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs published a video showing a young man with a mask on his face and in a hood throwing an object.
In a March 29 statement, the Interior Ministry also noted that Grigoriadis had had problems with the law before. In 2020 he was arrested for resisting the police, and in 2021 he was accused of domestic violence against his own father.
Later, Grigoriadis’ father explained that he did have disagreements with his son, because “he wanted to live freely”, but the conflict was soon resolved:
“At his age, I also wanted to live freely and lived like that. He is a very intelligent and kind person. We had a small family quarrel, and in the end everything was resolved. I gave him complete freedom. We don’t interfere with each other. If I had a bad attitude towards my son, would I speak out publicly? I will support my son to the end because I know who he is and what he stands for. I know what kind of heart he has,” Beka Grigoriadis wrote on Facebook.
Lazar’s grandfather, Gia Kalandadze, also told reporters that during the conflict with his father, Lazar was defending himself from his father, and not vice versa.
On March 31 a court session was held in the case where applying a measure of restraint was discussed. The lawyers demanded 10,000 lari [about $4,000] bail.
At the hearing, Grigoriadis said he wanted to testify again. He had already testified once in the police building, but without a lawyer. He admitted that he threw a Molotov cocktail and set fire to the policeman’s car. Lawyer Lika Bitadze suspects that this testimony could have been made under duress. The lawyer was not allowed to meet with Grigoriadis before the trial.
On March 31 hundreds of people gathered near the Tbilisi City Court. They demanded the release of Grigoriadis and claimed that the authorities deliberately chose a young man of non-standard appearance as a “victim” and now demonize him.
The day before the trial, official propaganda was launched.
On March 29, when the Ministry of Internal Affairs designated Grigoriadis only by initials, government channels were already publishing his photo with a raised middle finger. Government channels reported that Grigoriadis acted on behalf of the opposition, because he is a member of Elene Khoshtaria’s Droa party.
At the same time, influential high-ranking officials of the country, including the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, appeared before the court against Grogidias. He mentioned Grigoriadis’ appearance and spoke of “disorientation”.
“It seems that he had all sorts of reference points mixed up, such people behaved cruelly towards the policemen and this requires a proper assessment…,” Kobakhize said.
Kobakhidze said of the accused that “he had all his priorities mixed up” and “this is a man who has gone astray.” According to Kobakhidze, Grigoriadis is associated with the “Bolshevik troika” – Elene Khoshtaria, Zurab Japaridze and Giorgi Vashadze. Khoshtaria refutes the information spread by the chairman of the Georgian Dream.
Earlier, on March 12, in an interview with Imedi TV, Prime Minister Garibashvili called the young people who took part in the March 7-9 protests “Satanists” and “anarchists” whose goal is to “maintain permanent destabilization.” Later, during his speech in parliament, Garibashvili clarified that he received information about those whom he called “Satanists” from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Representatives of opposition parties and activists believe that Grigoriadis was specially singled out among the protesters and filed a case against him.
Grigoriadis has a characteristic tattoo on his face — eyelashes that look like rays of the sun around his eyes. He has dyed hair and piercings. His friends and supporters believe that his appearance is one of the reasons why he became a “target” for the police.
“I’m sure they spent three weeks choosing who to make a scapegoat… You have to have a very poor understanding of society to think that someone can be demonized because of tattoos and earrings,” Giorgi Kikonishvili, an activist who was at a rally near the court on March 31, said.
The authorities searched for Grigoriadis for three weeks to prove that those of us who stood at the rallies are Satanists and to intensify their propaganda. The authorities wanted to show people, they say, these are the people who are fighting with us. In fact, Lazare is a 21-year-old guy who was caught for nothing,” said Sofiko Sherazadishvili, another protester.
“His is, at the very least, selective justice by the regime, which does not punish the organizers of Putin’s violence. We must all save the one who is being sacrificed by Russia!” read a description of the rally that the opposition European Georgia Party planned in support of Lazarei on April 1 near the office building.
Follow us – Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
Supporters of Lazare Grigoriadis who came to the rally had the same eyelashes painted on them. Along with politicians and activists, MEP Viola von Cramon also came to the rally.
The MEP called Kobakhidze’s statement regarding Lazare insulting.
“Perhaps this is a criminal case, but it was singled out, turned into a show, and I think it is very offensive. In light of what happened at the beginning of March, it is important to say that everyone has the right to gather and protest, there is no need to single out specific individuals. That is why I came here to show solidarity,” von Cramon told reporters.
The next hearingin the trial is scheduled for May 1.