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Sunday, 24 June 2018


Georgian protest: Dangerous to health

26.04.2013  |  17:06

Georgian protest: Dangerous to health. 29349.jpeg

Recently in Georgia, cases of grievous harm to health have become more frequent. It has turned into a kind of mean of protest. Both prisoners and free citizens resort to such extreme method of struggle. "A woman set fire to herself in front of the bank creditors," "Father swallowed broken glass trying to achieve amnesty for his son prisoner" ... What does force the Georgians who are of sound mind and solid sanity to resort to such radical methods of protest? What do they have to undergo to finally stop using such methods to attract attention? And what does the public think about this?

Zaza Chkhikvadze is one of the residents of Tbilisi. Until recently he was relatively free citizen of independent Georgia. He was free to travel around the country, to dine at the same table with the family and kiss children before going to bed. Life changed dramatically when Zaza lost job. A few months of searching have failed to give result and eventually broke the will of the young man. And then his father died. Zaza seriously suffered the loss. Gradually his character spoiled, faith in himself has disappeared.

People who consider themselves unlucky and have low self-esteem also have an ability to attract people with similar problems. And Zaza is no exception. In one particularly difficult day in the company of "well-wishers" he decided to try a gateway drug - marijuana.

When he got caught the court took into account his family situation, the presence of a minor child, the lack of conviction and sentenced him to a suspended term of 5 years. This circumstance started depressing him even more. Now he began considering himself even a bigger loser. "Wow, it was so stupid to get caught after the first time." Zaza though nothing could get worse. Who is he in the eyes of his wife, who, unlike him, has managed to find a job and become chief at home?

Identificating himself with the hero of the film "Nothing to Lose" Zaza Chkhikvadze decided that now nothing matters. Desperation led to permissiveness and recklessness. He started drinking hard and then using drugs. This time, for some time he was able to avoid collisions with police officers. Eventually he got caught again. The presence of the suspended sentence did not leave room for concessions, and Zaza was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment in a penal colony.

The prison, as a rule, does not add to health. Every year spent behind bars Zaza caught more and more diseases. Now he got problems with legs and liver as a result of suffering a hepatitis. Several times Zaza got to the prison hospital. All the while, he continued asking for early release. But there was no answer. Only after the family hired a lawyer, they found out that his letters had not reached the appropriate authorities.

In the fall of 2012, the news of the impending large-scale amnesty breathed hope into the prisoner Zaza Chkhikvadze. Of the 1500 prisoners convicted under the similar article who submitted a petition for early release, only 75 were released. Zaza was not among them. But hope never left him after that. The change of power, the new government, the victory of the "Georgian Dream" Bidzina Ivanishvili - it seemed that in these conditions any dream could come true.

But Zaza Chkhikvadze's hopes have not justified. First, he achieved transfer to solitary confinement. Members of his family, including the sister Iia Chkhikvadze, feared for his state of mind. Left alone, Zaza kept thinking about what else he could do to escape to freedom.

Decision to swallow hazardous to health items came not immediately. But, of course, it was a moment of utter despair. Zaza swallowed all that was possible to get in a prison cell - plastic spoon and fork, even a TV antenna. But this was not enough. Then he broke the mirror into small pieces and "ate" them. Then he called a lawyer and confessed to what he had done.

In an interview with the GTimes Zaza Chkhikvadze's lawyer Roland Asatashvili admitted that he long time tried to convince the administration that his client had swallowed objects dangerous to health. In the end, Zaza was hospitalized. After the surgery in a civilian clinic Zaza was again transferred to the prison hospital.

Zaza recalls those days in the civil hospital facility with special gratitude. Despite the pain he felt almost like a free man.

Today Zaza has to spend the last 9 months in prison. For a prisoner with serious physical and emotional wounds this is unbearable term. 40-year-old Zaza Chkhikvadze hopes for transfer to a civilian hospital. A few days ago, under pressure from the lawyer, Zaza stopped the hunger strike that he declared after the surgery.

"I have managed to convince him that these methods would give no results. Instead, in order to get free on one day, he needed to eat and take medication. Now he's undergoing medical treatment for hepatitis and a number of other diseases. Recently we sent to the ministry a new application for early release. We were told they needed medical expertise of the state of his health. If we achieve expertise, I am confident that we would achieve the rest. His health condition is really critical. He cannot survive in prison conditions," said Zaza Chkhikvadze's lawyer.


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