Statement on the arrest of Rashan Ziadaliev

ISFED expresses concern over unfounded detention of its representative in the Marneuli Municipality on February 8 and the use of law enforcement as a weapon against a civic activist.

On February 8, Razhan Ziadaliev protested against the patrol police crew taking his photos covertly and without a foundation. He was consequently arrested for alleged violation of Article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offences of Georgia, which entails malicious disobedience with a lawful order or demand of a law enforcement officer, or military service person and an officer of the Special State Protection Service in the line of duty.

According to the information available to ISFED, Rashan Ziadaliev was in a supermarket on the main street in Marneuli, at around 9pm. Approximately 2-3 minutes after leaving the store, a police vehicle stopped in front of him and someone from the vehicle tried to take his photo. According to Ziadaliev, the person who was trying to take his photo was dressed in civilian clothes; he didn’t identify himself or the reason for taking the photo. Furthermore, according to Ziadaliev, he had his ID card with him, so there was no need for taking his photo for identification purposes. In spite of that, the police officer got out of the vehicle and continued trying to take his photo. Rashan protested and tried to explain the mandatory procedures to the police officers. He then tried to take a photo of the police vehicle and was consequently arrested.

Rashan Ziadaliev is a prominent civic activist in Marneuli. He courageously raises his voice against local problems caused by political or social inequality. He is a representative of ISFED, he leads the election observation mission in the Marneuli District and closely collaborates with other human rights organizations operating there. Recent cases of indirect pressure exerted on his family and close relatives by the law enforcement agencies raises suspicions that Rashan Ziadaliev is being persecuted by the law enforcement agencies due to his civic activism.

ISFED will observe the trial on February 10 and expects a fair and unbiased decision about the illegal actions of the police. We also urge the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to eliminate any forms of direct and indirect pressure on civic activists by the law enforcement agencies.