Paata Sabelashvili, an activist with White Noise, said in an interview that Bassiani had mobilized its patrons into political action, fighting for “all kinds of freedoms against patriarchal capitalist society.” The club’s entrance stamp used to give the times and dates of upcoming rallies, and a projection at the coat check counted down the hours before planned demonstrations.
Zviad Gelbakhiani, one of Bassiani’s owners, said in a recent interview that, “When the authorities raided us they didn’t expect such a prompt response from the club and the society around it.”
“And now they are trying everything against us,” he said.
Mezvrishvili said it was “not true” that Bassiani was being targeted for searches, or hindered in its business. “As far as I know, right now they are successfully functioning and operating,” she said.
On May 12, the anniversary of the raids, police briefly detained Gelbakhiani. He said this was because he had questioned why they were searching one of Bassiani’s patrons outside the club. (There were “legal grounds” for the detention, Mezvrishvili said.)
“It’s really hard to be against this whole machine of police and government,” Gelbakhiani said. “We are just 28-year-olds who are trying to make this country developed and popular around the world. But our government is trying to politically kill us.”
He said that the club was also regularly trolled by far-right activists online. “There are some unofficial Facebook pages where they post our photos and say that we are drug dealers, to create this fake anger against us,” he said.
But despite the pressure on the club, Gelbakhiani said he was determined to keep going.
“We are first activists and then club owners,” he said. “We do not do this as a business thing. We want to implement our ideas through the club. We cannot just sit in the office and watch as this craziness happens in the country.”
This content was originally published here.