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Foreign agent law protester’s father sews shut mouth and eye

21 June 2023
Beka Grigoriadis after having sewn his eye and lips shut. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The father of the first participant in Georgia’s foreign agent law protests to face criminal charges sewed his eye and lips shut on Tuesday demanding his son’s release.

Beka Grigoriadis has been holding a permanent protest behind the parliament building in Tbilisi since 29 May, demanding the release of his son.

Lazare Grigoriadis, 21, was arrested on 29 March on charges of attacking a policeman and destroying government property during the protests against the foreign agent law in March of this year.

Lazare Grigoriadis in court on 13 June. Photo: RFE/RL

He faces from 7 to 11 years in prison if found guilty of throwing two Molotov cocktails at the police and setting a police car on fire.

Beka Grigoriadis has faced opposition from the police during his protest, who repeatedly prevented him from setting up a tent behind parliament, and subsequently arrested him on 1 June. The following day, he was found guilty of disobeying police and fined ₾2,000 ($770).

On 3 June, Beka Grigoriadis successfully set up a tent in a park behind the parliament building. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

On 7 June, Beka Grigoriadis was again charged for verbally abusing police on social networks.

Grigoriadis’ latest move came two days after a striking miner in Chiatura sewed his eyes shut, and four days after another miner sewed his mouth shut. 

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[Read on OC Media: In pictures | Portrait of a mass hunger strike]

In a video address on Facebook, Grigoriadis stated that he supported the Chiatura strike, but he was taking the move as it was the only way the media would pay attention to his son’s case.

Following his son’s arrest, Grigoriadis initially demanded a jury trial for Lazare Grigoriadis, but launched his ongoing protest after claiming he had given up on the Georgian court system.

Protests against the foreign agent draft laws took place over several days at the start of March, but became particularly intense on 7–8 March, when riot police attempted to disperse the assembled protesters with pepper spray, tear gas, and water cannons.

Protesters being water cannoned during March protest against foreign agent law. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

The protests ceased after the draft law was formally withdrawn from parliament.