Alexander Lashkarava, a 37 year-old cameraman, was found dead in his bed by his mother after being beaten by an anti-LGBTQ+ mob protesting Pride celebrations in Georgia.
A Pride event, Tbilisi March For Dignity, was cancelled by organisers who said the authorities were failing to provide proper protection guarantees for attendees. Far-right gangs protesting the event blocked off the city’s main street and proceeded to attack the journalists present, calling them LGBTQ+ supporters.
Lashkarava was among more than 50 journalists who were injured by the anti-LGBTQ+ protestors. His colleague said a gang of 20 attacked Lashkarava, leaving him with serious fractures to his facial bones amongst other injuries.
The cameraman underwent surgery and was released from hospital in Georgia on Thursday, but was subsequently found dead in his home in the early hours of Sunday.
— Tamaz Sozashvili (@TamazSozashvili) July 5, 2021
Only last week, videos were shared on social media of men scaling the Tbilisi Pride offices during the protest to tear down Pride flags, while a mob below cheered. The offices were subsequently destroyed before journalists were then attacked.
Prime minister Irakli Garibashvili blamed the outbreak of violence on the LGBTQ+ community at a cabinet meeting on Monday, saying it was “unreasonable” for them to stage a Pride March.
“Holding of the so-called Pride march is not reasonable as it creates a threat of civil confrontation,” he said, adding that such events are “unacceptable for a large segment of the Georgian society.”
Thousands gathered to demand the resignation of the political leader following Lashkarava’s death, saying Garibashvili had enabled the attacks by publicly denouncing Pride events.
In an interview with AFP, Nodar Meladze, the news editor of TV Pirveli which Lashkarava worked for, 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 the cameraman’s death has reportedly been opened according to the country’s interior ministry.
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