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Georgia TV channels suspend all broadcasts and demand prime minister resign over cameraman’s death

Vic Parsons July 15, 2021
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Georgia

Media flank the path of mourners following the coffin with the body of Alexander Lashkarava, 37, in Tbilisi on July 13, 2021. (VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty)

Four TV stations in Georgia have gone off-air and demanded the prime minister’s resignation after the death of cameraman Alexander Lashkarava.

TV Pirveli, where Lashkarava worked, joined the Mtavari Arkhi, Formula and Kavkasia channels to call for prime minister Irakli Garibashvili’s resignation and the punishment of those responsible for his death.

The channels went dark for 24 hours, with TV Pirveli displaying the names of journalists injured in the far-right attack that preceded Lashkarava’s death.

The cameraman died after he was violently beaten by a mob on 5 July while covering anti-Pride protests in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. Tbilisi Pride was cancelled as far-right thugs unleashed a wave of violence on the city.

Lashkarava was subsequently treated in hospital for his injuries and he was discharged on 9 July. He was found dead in his home by his mother on 11 July.

His cause of death has yet to be revealed, but on Monday (12 July) police in Georgia entered Lashkarava’s home and forcibly removed his body, which was contained in a bag, in front of crowds of journalists, despite his family’s objections.

The cameraman’s family had resisted a state-led autopsy, fearing Lashkarava’s real cause of death could be deliberately hidden by the government that is being widely blamed for his death.

Garibashvili is yet to respond to the calls for his resignation, but previously said that the Pride march could lead to “public confrontations”, according to Reuters.

Human rights groups have accused the Georgian government of emboldening hate against LGBT+ people and their supporters and failing to protect journalists.

On Tuesday morning (13 July), a group of journalists interrupted a government press briefing and held up pictures of Lashkarava. Journalist Giorgi Kikabidze declared that Garibashvili is Georgia’s “number one homophobe” before the group ended their protest, according to Civil.ge.

This was the same day as Lashkarava’s funeral, which saw fellow journalists take to the streets to show their respect for the deceased cameraman.

Powerful video footage shared on social media shows members of Georgia’s media paying their respects to the cameraman, whose death has been blamed on the government by activist groups.

On Monday (12 July), as human rights groups called for his resignation, Garibashvili said 95 per cent of Georgia’s population was opposed to “propagandistic” Pride marches.

 

Related topics: Georgia

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