In Memoriam of Vitaly Safarov, Georgian Human Rights Defender

15/10/2018
Statement

FIDH grieves the death of human rights defender Vitaly (Vito) Safarov, who was stabbed on September 30, 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Local human rights groups, including FIDH member organisation in Georgia "Human Rights Center" (HRIDC) qualify defender’s murder as hate crime and call investigators to prosecute those responsible for "murder under aggravating circumstances due to racial, religious, national or ethnic intolerance". Two suspects arrested immediately after the murder allegedly belong to a neo-Nazi group. One of the suspects is charged with premeditated murder, while the other with failing to report a crime. HRIDC represents the victim’s family in judicial proceedings.

Witnesses report that on September 30, 2018, one of the arrested suspects reproached Vitaly for speaking Russian. In fact, Vitaly was in a company of foreigners in front of the Warszawa bar. A dispute ensued. Later, in a nearby narrow street, at least one of the suspects attacked Safarov, who died from injuries before paramedics arrived.

Vitaly first got involved in human rights work in 2013 when he became a trainer in a multicultural camp for children in Georgia. He then worked for the Georgian NGO “Centre for Participation and Development” as a trainer of youth programs. For the past two years, Vitaly was a part of the Tbilisi Shelter Initiative that provides human rights defenders from across the region with a safe space, rest, medical aid and capacity-building programs. He accompanied defenders from different countries and backgrounds on a daily basis, helping them to adapt during their stay in Tbilisi and to benefit from the Shelter’s programs.

"The loss of Vitaly is heartbreaking. He was a very bright, kind, devoted and helpful person who stood for his ideals of a more just, more tolerant world. My deepest condolences go to colleagues, family and friends. There are no words that could alleviate their pain losing such an extraordinary person. It’s a big loss for the Georgian civil society."

Julia Ouahnon, Programme Officer at FIDH who personally knew Vitaly

"We are very much concerned and grieved that a young talented human rights defender was killed by members of a neo-Nazi group in downtown Tbilisi. And that the law enforcement bodies do not adequately qualify the charge."

Nino Tlashadze, Deputy Director of "Human Rights Center" (HRIDC)

Vitaly Safarov will be missed and remembered by so many people. He was 25 years old.

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