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Vintage in Kahketi Is Carried Out Under the Suppression of Special Forces

24.09.2007
Law enforcers broke heads of young people from the village of Velistsikhe by butts.

In several days peasants from Gurjaani district will pull out vine trees in protest. Special Force unit will not be able to prevent peasants from doing so, though they have been mobilized in the yard of the Gurjaani District Police Department for ten days already. Masked law enforcers prohibit people to go out in the street and threaten them if not obeyed. Peasants claim that the President Saakashvili ordered curfew in Kakheti Region during vintage. Villagers also mentioned that unless they obey the orders of Special Forces, the law enforcers are ordered to kill rebels immediately.

Unless representatives of the Human Rights Center and journalists had arrived in the village, nearly two hundred residents of the village of Velistsikhe would have been injured, if not killed. “There was not electricity in the village on that day. So people were sitting in front of their houses and chatting with neighbors. Special Forces had been in the district for several days already. Seeing us in the street law enforcers asked us why we were not at home; everybody answered we were not doing anything wrong. I do not know what they imagined but law enforcers jumped out from cars and attacked us. They were hitting us with guns and shouting- we will kill you unless you go home. They definitely were drunk. They physically assaulted women,” said Manana Samniashvili, a resident of Velistsikhe.

 “I was very tired and having a rest at home. But having heard noises I went out into the street. Masked strangers were beating our boys with butts. People shouted that they were not guilty but in vain. We called patrol police several times but they pretended not to hear us. Soldiers from Special Forces left us after representatives of human rights organizations and journalists arrived on the place.”

“Leaving the village they warned us not to say anything against them otherwise they had remembered our faces and we would have problems. But we cannot endure this situation anymore…”

“Just explain to us cannot we stand in front of our houses? Do they want us to resist them with weapon? Should we take axes and hoes and protect ourselves from soldiers of Special Forces?”” asked anxious people.

Mikheil Berelidze, Beka Gurgenishvili, Tsezar Samniashvili and some other residents of the village of Velistsikhe were injured during the accident. “I was speaking with my friends when law enforcers attacked us. None of us had done anything wrong. Maybe they thought we were planning protest demonstration regarding the vintage. Law enforcers were pointing guns at us. They want to make us keep silence. Masked people are moving around the village and prohibit people to go out into the street. They are ready to kill people to avoid protest demonstration. Soldiers broke our heads with butts,” said victim Mikheil Berelidze.

Gurjaani District Prosecutor’s Office started preliminary investigation on dispersal of the population after they learned about the accident from TV. According to Zurab Bikashvili, Gurjaani District Deputy Prosecutor, criminal case was launched under the Criminal Code Article 333 Section III (abusing one’s power and threatening people). The crime is charged under the imprisonment from three to eight years imprisonment.

Despite the fact Kakheti region population loudly complain about the government.

“The life is getting more and more expensive and difficult. The prices on food, fruit and vegetables also increase. Nowadays in market one bunch of coriander and one kilo of grape have similar price- twenty tetri. You can buy one tomato or one cucumber or 7 plums, half apple, one graft of pumpkin and one nut for twenty tetri. You cannot buy toilet paper for twenty tetri because it costs thirty tetri. Winter is approaching now and peasant must sell half tone of grape to buy two bunches of fire wood. Are not they human beings? Don’t they trust in god?  How do they estimate the price on grape? Let alone the grape, do you know how much do peasants work to get harvest? I would have made those people simply to watch peasants work in vineyards who estimate the prices on grape. Afterwards, I wonder what price they would have offered to us. I wonder according to which market economy they have estimated their high salaries.”

People would not have complained if grape had been hailed. The nature is sovereign and people put up with its cruelty. But it is hard to endure the situaiton when your government dooms you to such a disaster,” said Tsira Samniashvili.

Peasants apply to vintage coordinating office opened by the Ministry of Agriculture regarding the vintage; however local residents cannot receive promising replies from them either. “Several wine factories accept grape in Kakheti region but they only take best grape. The purchase is carried out according to micro zones. For example, Vachnadzeani Wine Factory buys only the grape from the surrounding area in the village of Vachnadzeani. We took part neither in estimating the price nor we force anybody to buy grape,” stated representatives of the coordinating office.

Peasants from Kakheti region intend to cut their vineyards because of low price, problems in selling their product and governmental terror. Population is particularly concerned regarding one sort of grape-Saferavi because this year they received large amount of this sort of grape and it is very difficult to sell it out.

Avto Kalabegashvili, a resident of Gurjaani, said that on Wednesday he would pull out vine trees of Saferavi from 0, 5 acres of land. Other peasants will do the same in the nearest future.

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti   

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