The Tbilisi protests organized earlier in the month may have sent a clear message to the Georgia government. After Café Gallery announced that they would resume operations yesterday, local authorities have now called off their investigation of Bassiani.
On May 12th the Georgia government coordinated raids of the two clubs that resulted in the arrests of eight alleged drug dealers. Shortly thereafter, thousands of Tbilisi youths gathered to demonstrate outside the capitol city’s parliament building. Activist Beka Tsikarishvili called off the protests on May 14th but warned that they would resume on the 19th if officials failed to meet their demands.
Bassiani in particular incurred substantial losses due to the raids. The club’s co-founder, Tato Getia, had told Resident Advisor that it would have to close altogether if not allowed to reopen its doors by the first week of June.
The Greater Good
The end of the Café Gallery and Bassiani investigations stands as a clear victory for Tbilisi nightlife culture. Whether it will catalyze drug policy reform remains to be seen, however. Georgian drug laws still penalize those found in possession of microscopic amounts of some substances with lengthly prison sentences, and Getia remains skeptical that officials will keep their promises to revisit other legal inconsistencies.
With techno clubs caught in the crosshairs of Georgia lawmakers, Tbilisi nightlife is becoming more and more symbolic of progressive change. Both Café Gallery and Bassiani foster an LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere, and homosexuality has only been legal in the country since 2000.
Georgia Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia has publicly apologized for the raids and agreed to renew talks about drug policy reform.
Source: Resident Advisor