Read here exclusive comments of ROTTING CHRIST frontman Sakis Tolis to Rock Hard Greece and Lefteris Tsoureas on the band’s recent incarceration at Tbilisi airport.
“We arrived in Tbilisi with an early-morning flight. We disembarked and they stopped us at passport control because the names Sakis and Themis Tolis were blacklisted. We thought there must be something really serious going on to be taken into custody by national security. They took us to the airport holding based on false accusations. They literally opened a door and just threw us in there after confiscating all our stuff”.
Did they actually keep you in the airport? What were the conditions in the holding area?
“Yeah it was just at the end of the airport. The conditions were awful! It was a sort of 2 by 2 cell with a really dirty toilet. They confiscated all our stuff and just threw us in a cell without windows or iron bars and they let us keep only the clothes we were wearing.”
How many hours were you kept in there and how did you overall react to what was happening?
“From 4 a.m to 4 p.m. We kept asking the reason but received no response. This is what really frightened us – that we were locked up without knowing the actual charges. We kept demanding the reasons by banging the door and they kept answering that it is confidential! We started to worry cause we had no idea what was happening.”
What do you really think happened? Was the band’s name possibly the source of the problem as it has typically haunted you for a long time in many countries were you have performed? I must say though, the most astonishing thing is that Season of Mist issued an official announcement saying that there were allegations of terrorism which probably means that someone issued a complaint on your band name.
“Exactly! I think that the terrorism scenario is very likely and this is what we are currently looking into. Just consider this: it wasn’t the police who stopped us but the national guard. Maybe the band name played a certain part in everything but to the extent that we were even blacklisted?”
This is totally unheard of! And they didn’t even give you the right to contact your lawyer as is customary in such cases?
“No! Thankfully though the other two band members who were not kept in custody together with the management of our upcoming gig in Tbilisi took swift action and brought over a bunch of people and reporters who protested! Thus, they were forced to let us go after a total of 12 hours.”
And your gig was on the same night! How did it go and how did you feel to be onstage after this terrible ordeal?
“Immediately after our release at 16:00 we went to the venue and did our soundcheck. The gig was amazing and the feeling on stage was truly unique. The crowd really participated and also this was the first ever black metal gig in Georgia! Paradoxically, our problems were not over as we made our way to the car to go to Armenia: at the border there was another warning and only after a telephone intervention by the Greek embassy did we manage to leave the country.”
English translation: Philip Philis
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