Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Mgebrishvili commented on the Birja Mafia case in an interview with Imedi TV released today.
On June 8th, law enforcement agents in Georgia arrested two members of the satirical parody hip-hop group Birja Mafia on charges of purchasing and possessing large amounts of the drug MDMA. They potentially faced life-sentences. The group members and their relatives protested that the two men were arrested because of the content of their music video for the song ‘Tsli Shavi Zeda,’ which showed a policeman on all floors with a leash around his neck. Both of the members of the group were released on June 12th after a massive demonstration on Rustaveli avenue in Tbilisi.
Interior Minister Mgebrishvili said in the interview with Imedi TV that he had not seen the Birja Mafia music video before the two men were arrested, that he only saw it afterwards, but that the video had a “heavy impression” on him.
“The clip had a really heavy impression on me. This isn’t a satire of a specific policeman. It is an attempt to disrespect the entire system. Shooting such a video is just shameful when the police are trying to defend the security of our country and families, when they risk their lives day and night,” Mgebrishvili said.
“We work a lot, 24/7. And we make mistakes. But this doesn’t mean that someone has the right to bend over the policeman, lead him with a leash around his neck and put a bone in his mouth.
I didn’t like this clip; and the country in which policeman and soldiers are not respected has no future.”
Before he was released from detention, Mikhail Mgaloblishvili of Birja Mafia told the court on June 9th that his arrest was linked to the music video. Mgaloblishvili told the court that when he was arrested, law enforcement agents told him that "someone is annoyed” and that that “anyone who represents police in such a manner will be punished."