Brandishing machine guns, Police in Tbilisi stormed Bassiani early this morning, raiding the famous club and Café Gallery as part of a crackdown on the local dance music scene.
The raids were partly a response to five drug deaths in the city over the last two weeks. Georgia has a zero-tolerance drug policy, and authorities say the deaths are linked to Bassiani. Eight alleged drug dealers were apprehended.
"The police entered the nightclubs... with video footage from the scene showing armed officers moving into the premises to conduct drug sweeps," Civil.ge reports. The Interior Ministry reportedly sanctioned the raids. "The Ministry has been conducting intensive investigative measures for the last three months for establishing facts of drug trade in Bassiani and Gallery nightclubs."
Protesters gathered outside both clubs, and a few dozen were arrested near Bassiani. Some accused police of excessive force, and said the could have planted the drugs that lead to arrests.
— Shota Kincha (@shotakincha) May 12, 2018
— Tuta (@Tutasay) May 11, 2018
— Tuta (@Tutasay) May 12, 2018
Bassiani posted a photo of the raid to its Instagram with the caption: "Special forces have blocked BASSIANI, musicians trapped, the right becoming more radical. sos." The club is also updating its Facebook with news from the raid and protest.