White Noise, a movement against what it calls is “repressive and inhuman drug policies”, took to the streets on June 17, 2016 to call for decriminalization of use of drugs and possession of small amount of drugs for personal use. Protesters marched on Tbilisi’s Rustaveli Avenue towards the Parliament building in what was probably the largest rally on the issue ever held in Georgia.
The protest rally came on the one year anniversary of death of Levan Abzianidze, a 56-year-old taxi driver in Georgia’s second largest city of Kutaisi, who was detained by the police and taken for urine drug test to detect use of illegal drugs. While in police custody he was allegedly given diuretic pills, which increase the amount of urine. Abzianidze was released after test showed no presence of drugs, but he died shortly after the release. His family, as well as campaigners against repressive drug policy, blames diuretic pills Abzianidze had to take while in the police custody for his death. Although the investigation was launched, it is still ongoing and no official findings about causes of death have yet been produced one year after Abzianidze’s death. “Levan Abzianidze was killed by the state” was among the banners protesters carried during the demonstration in Tbilisi on June 17.