Georgian protesters disrupt parliament following death of cameraman beaten by anti-LGBTQ+ mob

Journalists and opposition lawmakers are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili who is said to have enabled the violence.

A mass of people clashing with police in the doorway of a building

Tensions continue to rise among Georgian protesters who disrupted a Parliamentary session demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The incident broke out in response to the untimely death of Alexander Lashkarava, who was beaten by an anti-LGBTQ+ mob, and later found dead in his home.

Journalists and opposition lawmakers forced their way into the Parliament building after a noon deadline passed for the Prime Minister and the ruling Georgian Dream party to step down from government. The deadline was set by protesters who said Garibashvili had enabled the slew of violent attacks that saw Alexander Lashkarava killed.

Following intervention from the Georgian police, protesters were removed from the building after just over an hour, and the Parliament session resumed.

In a cabinet meeting on Monday, Garibashvili blamed the LGBTQ+ community for the “unreasonable” organisation of a Pride March which “creates a threat of civil confrontation.” His statement also declared that such events are “unacceptable for a large segment of the Georgian society.”

The Prime Minister has said the call for his resignation is “another failed conspiracy against the state that was masterminded by anti-state and anti-church forces.” 

The Tbilisi March For Dignity was due to take place on Monday, July 5, but was cancelled by organisers after a far-right attack on their headquarters. There was said to be a lack of proper protection for attendees, as a homophobic crowd blocked off the city’s main street and proceeded to attack the journalists present, calling them LGBTQ+ supporters.

Alexander Lashkarava was set to cover the event as a cameraman and became one of more than 50 media personnel who were attacked by the anti-LGBTQ+ mob. A colleague stated that a gang of 20 attacked Laskarava, leaving him with injuries including serious facial fractures. The 37 year-old underwent surgery, and was released from hospital on Thursday, but was subsequently found dead in his home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In an interview with AFP, Nodar Meladze, the news editor of Lashkarava’s former employer TV Pirveli, said, “The government not only encourages violence against journalists, it is part of the violence.

“The government has set up violent groups to attack independent media. Riot police have also repeatedly targeted journalists.”

An investigation into Lashkarava’s death has reportedly been opened according to the country’s interior ministry.

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