The Tbilisi Pride march was cancelled following violent demonstrations from openly anti-LGBTQIA+ protestors in Georgia’s capital city. Following this violence in Tbilisi, Lekso Lashkarava, who was a cameraman for TV Pirveli, was injured whilst reporting the violence and found dead later that day, reports BBC News.
Lashkarava was one of at least 50 journalists who were attacked at the demonstration. He reported having severe pain after being beaten by far-right protestors. Lashkarava was rushed to hospital and treated for a concussion, facial bone fractures and contusions but was discharged home, reports Civil.ge.
The exact cause of death is still being investigated; the Georgia Interior Ministry have arrested 20 people for enacting violence against journalists. The police are investigating Lashkarava’s case under Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Georgia which specifies the crime was incitement to suicide, reports Transitions Online.
According to BBC News, the Georgian government has been criticised amongst claims that Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili condones and enables far-right violent behaviour. Garibashvili had said the Pride event was “unacceptable for a large segment of the Georgian society”.
In response to Lashkarava’s death, protestors have criticised the government’s failure to protect the safety of journalists in Georgia, and many people are calling for the prime minister’s resignation. According to Reporters Without Borders, journalists have spoken out against the authorities supposed passivity in the face of extreme violence.
Georgia’s parliament was disrupted when opposition politicians brought journalists in who sought to question government about their failures to protect the safety of reporters in Tbilisi. The US Embassy In Georgia released a statement on July 11, saying, “the safety of every Georgian journalist and the credibility of democracy in Georgia require that every individual who attacked peaceful citizens and journalists on July 5 and 6, or who incited violence, must be identified, arrested, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.