Levan Vasadze Vows to Create “People’s Army” Against Tbilisi Pride

Businessman Levan Vasadze released a video address on June 16 calling for “real” men to stop Tbilisi Pride from taking place and meet in Vera Park to discuss an action plan on Sunday evening.

Vasadze, who is known for his extreme hate speech and pro-Russian beliefs, announced that he would create a “People’s Army” of tens of thousands of men, inviting sportsmen and military to join and women and children to stay at home.

“I am inviting men,” said Vasadze. “What needs to be done, needs to be done by men.”

He said they will create self-organized groups that will patrol Tbilisi for a week: “We will divide the city, patrol the city quietly, quietly, we will not have any weapon, except for one – we will bind their hands with belts and take them away,” threatened Vasadze.

He also insisted that Tbilisi Pride would not be allowed to happen, saying his men would break through any police cordon during the event.

“We will not allow the LGBT activists to hold any public action, wherever this happens in movie theaters, in parks, in the streets, in the mountains or at the lakes,” he said in his video address on June 15. “We will come to you everywhere, we will break through any cordon and we will overwhelm you.”

Members of hate groups gathered in Vera Park on Sunday evening to begin recording “squads”.

Vasadze’s video address follows events in Tbilisi on Friday night when far-right protestors violently confronted peaceful LGBTQI protesters. LGBTQI activists gathered in front of the Parliament building in response to a statement from the Church saying that Tbilisi Pride is “absolutely unacceptable” and urging the government to prevent it.

Police detained 28 people for physically and verbally assaulting the peaceful activists and attempting to break through the police cordon.

In a statement released by Tbilisi Pride on Sunday evening, they called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to launch an investigation into Levan Vasadze’s video: “Levan Vasadze is threatening to violate law and order and commit violence against people and policemen for the second time.”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed they are investigating Levan Vasadze in a statement published on Monday morning. He is accused of breaching Article 223 for creating, managing, arranging and/or partcipating in an illegal formation, which carries a sentence of 6-12 years.

“The provision of public order in the country is the duty of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and therefore any attempt to execute the duties of the police and other state agencies will be immediately prevented,” reads the statement.

They assured that they will protect the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of every person during Pride events regardless of “his/her political views, beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.”

In a press conference on Monday morning, Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili confirmed that no-one is immune from the law and that the Ministry of Internal Affairs will respond adequately to any violations.

LGBTQI groups are frequently oppressed in Georgia. Far-right, pro-Russian hate groups and the Church believe that Pride is an attack on traditional values.

“Liberal forces must realize this is too much when they try to impose something that is unacceptable for our nation,” said Archbishop Jakob, during his Sunday sermon. “There may be various kinds of rules in different parts of the world, but it is not necessary that the same be introduced in our country.”

On 17 May 2013, thousands of counter-demonstrators violently clashed with LGBTQI protestors who held a small rally for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The first ever Tbilisi Pride will take place from 18 - 23 June to raise awareness for LGBTQI issues in Georgia.

By Amy Jones

Image source: tabula

17 June 2019 18:25