Alexander Lashakarava (37), a cameraman for independent TV station Pirveli, was one of the journalists assaulted by a violent mob of anti LGBTQI+ protesters while reporting from the Pride march in Tbilisi on 5 July. He sustained fractures to his facial bones. According to local media reports, he was treated at the medical center for four days.
The Pride events were marked by extreme violence leading to its cancelation over safety fears as anti-LGBTQI+ protesters attacked activists and media workers. More than 50 journalists were harassed, beaten and their equipment was stolen and damaged. Civil society organisations, including the IFJ and EFJ, denounced the failure of the police to protect journalists performing their duties.
Yesterday, thousands rallied outside the Parliament and the office of ruling party Georgian Dream to call for the Prime Minister and interior minister to resign over Lashkarava’s death.
In a statement, the Ministry of Interior said it launched an investigation “on the fact of unlawful interference with the journalist’s professional activities under the threats of violence, persecution under violence, or threat of violence and group violence” and detained four individuals. One person was charged this morning.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "We are appalled by the death of our colleague Alexander Lashakarava. We urge the Georgian authorities to identify and prosecute all the aggressors but also to recognise and act on its responsibilities for failing to guarantee media workers' safety while doing their job. We send our deepest condolences to Alexander's family and friends".
EFJ director Renate Schroder said: “We are deeply saddened by Alexander’s death. No one should have been assaulted for their sexual orientation or for doing their job. The authorities must send a strong signal by conducting a transparent and prompt investigation.”