On September 30, 25-year-old Vitaly Safarov, a citizen of Georgia was murdered in the center of Tbilisi, supposedly on xenophobic grounds.
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) addresses the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to have a strict, timely and effective response to the crime allegedly committed by the members of the neo-Nazi group.
Vitaly Safarov’s case is particularly alarming since it might be the first murder committed by the members of neo-Nazi group on the grounds of racial hatred.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is investigating the case under Article 108 of the Criminal Code, which implies intentional murder. Considering that the murder is allegedly committed by more than one person, with particular cruelty, due to racial, religious, national or ethnic intolerance, we consider that the case should be qualified in accordance with Article 109 of Criminal Code of Georgia - intentional murder under aggravating circumstances.
TDI calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation, immediately determine the appropriate qualification to the case, based on the importance of the case, present the details of the investigation and the grounds of the crime to the public, and in case of identification of racial, religious, national and/or ethnic intolerance as a motive, refer to them as aggravating circumstances.
During the recent years, neo-fascist and ultra-nationalist groups often appear in public space and attack people of a particular origin, nationality and/or identity. TDI publicly addressed the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia on September 14, 2018, on the so-called “Georgian Guards” case and called on the Ministry to have the immediate response to instances motivated by hatred. -”Any passiveness will encourage the extremist groups to the crime motivated by religious/ethnic/racial intolerance.” - TDI’s statement reads.
Vitaly Safarov worked on the issues of ethnic minorities integration at the Centre for Participation and Development. To be noted, his organization relates the murder to the xenophobic grounds
Reportedly, the conflict began in a bar at Freedom Square and continued outside on Alexander Duma Street. When paramedics arrived on the scene, Safarov was already dead. He had multiple knife wounds.
In the bars around Freedom Square, neo-Nazi groups have been particularly active during the last 1 year. The staff working in the bars confirms, that patrol police have often been called because of their aggressive and violent behavior. According to them, the police often inadequately responded to these facts.
“They were aggressive towards all foreigners, they were carrying knuckles, knives, iron chains, were threatening people, throwing the bottles towards the cars, threatening the barmen, starting the fights, they were proudly telling the stories of how brutally they beat up the homeless people in the streets [...] The police did not even blink, did not react adequately even when one of them pointed a broken bottle to my former boss’s face and threatened him of mutilation, police would just verbally warn them and leave quietly” - says one of the staff members.
As it turns out, Vitaly Safarov's murderer was one of them. "Last year, the murderers of this boy, the little Nazis were coming to the bar, for a few months almost every day either patrol or criminal police were coming here." The images of the alleged killer have been shared in the social network, those are loaded with the symbols of the Nazi-Socialist Party and the "Schutzfeld (SS)". The people who work close to the crime scene indicate that the conflict was related to the language and national issues.
It has also been reported, that the people who were at the crime scene, left the area before the conflict started due to the neo-Nazi group’s distinctive aggression.