Police Investigates Georgian March Leader over Influencing Public Defender

Georgian Interior Ministry has launched an inquest into the incident that took place at the Office of the Georgian Public Defender on November 12.

In particular, yesterday, Sandro Bregadze, leader of ultranationalist Georgian March group, went to the Public Defender’s Office to meet with Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria and discuss recent developments in Tbilisi related to the Georgian premiere of “And Then We Danced.

The meeting, however, was not held, prompting Bregadze to threaten that he would return to the Office of Public Defender together with several thousands of people to throw Nino Lomjaria and her supporters to the “political landfill.”

In a statement released on November 13, the Interior Ministry said that investigation has been launched under article 352 of the criminal code of Georgia, involving influencing the Public Defender in order to interfere with her official duties and punished by a fine or corrective labor from one to two years, or with restriction of liberty for up to two years.

The Georgian March movement, uniting ultranationalist groups, was established in 2017. On Friday, November 8, its activists and leaders, including Sandro Bregadze, tried to thwart the premiere of a Georgian-Swedish film with gay protagonists. Several days earlier, Georgian March and other hate groups announced that they would not allow film screening, slamming it as a “propaganda of homosexuality.”

In response, Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria called on the Interior Ministry to ensure security of LGBT people and moviegoers.

Sandro Bregadze, leader of ultranationalist Georgian March group, served as Deputy Minister in Diaspora Issues under Georgian Dream administration in 2014-16. Prior to that, Bregadze held the position of Deputy Minister of of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories. In the wake of his political career, Sandro Bregadze was a member of The Democratic Revival Union party of Aslan Abashidze, feudal renegade ruler of Georgia’s Adjara region. The party disbanded soon after Abashidze fled to Moscow in May 2004.

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