Georgian Far-Right Nationalist Group Attacks Tbilisi Cafe

TBILISI - A group from the radical ultra-nationalist Georgian Power attacked employees and guests Sunday evening at a vegan cafe located in Tbilisi’s bustling city center.

Witnesses said at least 15 far-right extremists stormed into the small Kiwi Café and began hurling sausages and meat at both the staff and the cafe’s customers.

One witness, Nono Antidze, wrote on his Facebook page that the staff calmly asked the group to leave the premises quietly, but were shouted down by members of the group before they began rampaging through the cafe and attacking several of the people inside.

“As soon as they came into the cafe a terrible quarrel started. They were shouting at the staff and throwing things around. They made a huge mess and began attacking people who were there to eat and take part in a film screening that Kiwi was hosting. They beat one of my friends and gave him a big gash on his head. Soon as the police came the group left,” eyewitness Ana Gulisashvili wrote on her Facebook page.

According to witnesses, law enforcement officials failed to pursue the extremist group and instead turned their attention to the cafe’s staff and customers, many of whom sport alternative clothing and hairstyles.

“Because most of the staff, and a lot of the guests, have piercings and mohawk hairstyles, the police thought they were the ones responsible for the incident. We can only hope that there were some working surveillance cameras (in the area). When they see those videos, they will know what happened,” Antidze wrote in an online post.

Other witnesses said the police seemed to openly mock those in the cafe and laughed at the victims’ accounts of the incident.

“We are now living in a type of hell where people are insulted for their different style of dress. They are beaten for having piercings and mocked for not eating meat. What is worse is that the police laugh at us and further aggravate the situation instead of protecting the city's residents,” Gulisashvili said in her Facebook post.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement to local media outlets saying that at official investigation has yet to be launched but confirmed that the staff and several witnesses were questioned.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: Kiwi Café 

30 May 2016 17:18