Tbilisi City Court has sent the leader of neo-fascist organisation Georgian National Unity Giorgi Chelidze to pretrial detention today, while his attorneys have demanded his release on bail at 1000 GEL (388.797 USD).
Giorgi Chelidze faces charges for the illegal purchase, possession and use of firearms and ammunition.
An investigation was launched into Chelidze after a video was published on 31 August on the group’s official Facebook page. Now deleted, the video depicted Chelidze shooting from a gun.
28 different types of weapons and 28 cartridges were seized during a search of his apartment, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs stated.
Weapon seized from Giorgi Chelidze's apartment. Photo: Ministry of Internal Affairs
Chelidze assesses his detention as political persecution and rejects allegations against him:
“It has been happening since I founded the organisation and started spreading my ideas, this is an attempt to silence me, the investigation proves there is none of my DNA on the ammunition,” said Chelidze after the hearing.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor states that Chelidze had attempted to get rid of the weapons and pointed out the close relationship between the accused and witnesses of the case:
“There is a danger that influence might be exerted on the witnesses to give testimony in the accused’s favor”, the prosecutor said.
Chelidze faces two to five years imprisonment should he be convicted.
Other videos of group members firing weapons in a forest were posted on the organisation’s Facebook page on 27 and 29 August.
Georgian National Unity was registered in 2016 as a non-governmental legal entity and has its own charter. The members of the movement call it a fascist organisation and often spread radical xenophobic statements and ideas.
Here are some extracts from the code of conduct for members of Georgian National Unity.
“Members of the organisation are not allowed to convert to a religion whose ideology may prevent them from fulfilling their duties’’.
“Racial mixing and same-sex relations are forbidden”.
The organisation employs fascist symbols, greetings and a strict power hierarchy.