Education Minister and Vice Prime Minister of Georgia Aleksandre Jejelava commented that the the music video by satirical hip hop group Birja Mafia, which depicts a policeman on his knees on a leash like a dog, is a “step against the state.”
The two members of the hip hop group were arrested on June 8th on charges of purchasing and possessing large amounts of the drug MDMA. The two men have denied the charges and accused police of planting the drugs on them. Their relatives and one of the arrested men claim they were arrested because of the visual content of their music video ‘Tl Shavi Zeda,’ which shows a policeman on a leash.
“Such disrespect towards law enforcement authorities is a step against the state, in my opinion, but they should not be held accountable for that,” Vice PM Jejelava said. “But to say that you violated the law and then ‘I was accounted for something different’ is just unserious.”
Ombudsman of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili has issued an official statement regarding the case, urging the Prosecutor’s Office to study the motives for the men’s detention. “It is of utmost importance to take into account the information that was shared by the accused people and their family members, including regarding the music video,” the Ombudsman said.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, police searched Mikheil “Mishka” Mgaloblishvili, also known by his stage name “Young Mic,” and found 1.4965 grams of MDMA on his person. Giorgi Keburia, also known as “Kay G,” was found with 2.3342 grams of MDMA.
The MIA opened an investigation under Article 260 of the Criminal Code, part 6, for the purchase and possession of large amounts of illegal drugs.
If convicted, Mgaloblishvili and Keburia could face an 8-20 year prison sentence, or even a life sentence.
Mikheil Mgaloblishvili’s trial was held on June 9th at Tbilisi City Court. Mgaloblishvili said his arrest was linked to the music video. He told the court that when he was arrested, law enforcement agents told him that, "someone is annoyed and you will be punished for it. Anyone who represents police in such a manner will be punished." Mgaloblishvili says the law enforcement agents talked about his music video, confiscated his phone so that he could not contact anyone, and verbally and physically insulted him. He says he was pressured to take a drug test and that there were no signs of drugs in his blood.
Mgaloblishvili says he was made to sign a document pleading guilty, out of pressure and fear; he says he was promised to be released in three days in exchange for signing the document.
While the defense requested a 50,000 dollar bail, Tbilisi City Court Judge Badri Shonia sentenced Mgaloblishvili to temporary detention as a ‘preventive measure,’ satisfying the solicitation of the Prosecutor's Office. According to the prosecution’s argument, "we have uncontrolled borders and he [Mgaloblishvili] can run away from the country.” The next trial is scheduled for June 27th.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that Giorgi Keburia has admitted to the charges; his trial will be held separately.