Georgian police on Sunday (11) opened an investigation into the death of a television camera, part of a group of several journalists who were beaten while covering the attack from a community-organized march LGBTI.
Also on Sunday, hundreds of people took to the streets to demand that those responsible be punished. A woman covered the door of a government building in red paint in protest.
Protesters also called for the resignation of the prime minister and interior minister over the violence and murder in Lashkarava – accusing authorities of encouraging hate groups and failing to ensure the safety of activists and media workers .
The attack on the LGBTI pride march came on Monday (5), after groups opposing the event stormed and ransacked its organizers’ office in the capital Tbilisi, then attacked protesters and journalists – with it , the march was canceled.
Cameraman Alexander Lashkarava, also assaulted in the episode, was found dead at his home by his mother, according to a statement made this Sunday (11) by the Pirveli television channel, where Lashkarava worked. The cause of his death was not mentioned.
The Interior Ministry said it had opened a criminal investigation, but it also did not mention the cause of the journalist’s death.
According to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, 53 journalists were assaulted while covering the actions of the group that attacked the event planned by the LGBTI group. At least five professionals have been hospitalized with serious injuries.
Ilya Tvaliashvili, a cameraman for public broadcaster GPB, said his eyes were burnt when a chemical was thrown in his face. Mak Jabua, reporter for Vehicle Line Tabula, reports being hit on the head with a stick. The information comes from the NGO Reporters Without Borders.
Equipment used by media professionals has also been the target of attacks. Cameras, microphones and cell phones have been stolen and destroyed. Many journalists highlighted the lack of action by the police to prevent the advance of their attackers. Pirveli TV reporter Giorgi Maisuradze said police watched his crew’s cameraman Levan Bregvadze be beaten without intervening.
Georgian President Salomé Zourabishvili wrote on Twitter this Saturday (10) that she had visited Lashkarava’s family.
“What happened is a tragedy and I send my condolences to the entire media community and everyone in Georgia,” he wrote. “It must be investigated and those responsible must be punished,” he said.
Western countries have called on Georgia to guarantee freedom of expression in the country.