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Birja Mafia rap duo face life imprisonment on drug charges

9 June 2017

Georgian rap duo the Birja Mafia have been detained in Tbilisi and charged for ‘illegally purchasing and holding especially large amounts’ of the recreational psychoactive drug, MDMA. Friends and family of the accused claim that the drugs were planted on them, and that they were arrested for a recent music video they released depicting a police officer as a dog.

Mishka Mgaloblishvili, 28, and Giorgi Keburia, 21, who go under the stage names Young Mic and Kay G, were detained on 6 June. Police say they were carrying 1.5 and 2.3 grammes of MDMA respectively. If convicted, the pair could face sentences of either 8–20 years or life in prison.

According to police, Keburia has pleaded guilty, but his friends claim that he was pressured into doing so.

Mgaloblishvili’s wife, Erica Copeland, claims that they were targeted because of their recent music video. The video depicts a policeman on his hands and knees at the feet of the rappers, on a dog leash.

According to Copeland, the music video was financed by entertainment website Adjaranet. She claims that after the video was released on YouTube Adjaranet told Mgaloblishvili to remove it.

A frame from current and deleted versions of the music video

‘They called from Adjaranet and told Mishka, that somebody might have face problems, so he deleted the video’, Netgazeti quoted Copeland. An updated version of the video is now available online, with the policeman blurred out.

Young Mic was due to participate in a popular online hip-hop battle ‘PVP Battle’ on 9 June. He recently defeated Kay G in the quarter finals.


Georgia’s Public Defender is already studying the case.

Georgia’s drug policy has recently been under fire from human rights and civil society groups in the country. According to research conducted for the Council of Europe, drug offences were the number one reason for which prisoners were sentenced in 2015, accounting for roughly every third prisoner (2,700 people) in Georgia’s jails.

In addition to handing down tough jail sentences for possessing even small quantities of illegal drugs. There have also been several unconfirmed claims of police targeting or planting drugs on people connected to opposition political figures.

The uncensored version of the video below:

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