At least twenty journalists have been attacked by hate groups gathered in a counter-rally against today’s Tbilisi Pride March, according to the latest media reports.
Those attacked include journalists and cameramen from television channels TV Pirveli, Formula TV, Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, Georgian Public Broadcaster, Mtavari Arkhi and online media outlets On.ge, Netgazeti and Tabula, reports say.
TV Pirveli said counterprotesters smashed its equipment, while Tabula Magazine noted its journalist Mako Jabua was hit with a stick. Several journalists reportedly sustained various degrees of injuries.
The Interior Ministry said it has launched investigations into cases of interference with journalist’s professional activities (Article 154, Criminal Code) and violence (Article 126). The statement did not specify how many incidents have taken place.
The statement also called on Tbilisi Pride activists not to hold the March “in an open public space” because of the “scale” of the ongoing counter-rally.
Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava said “violence is inadmissible and I particularly condemn violence against journalists and in general, media representatives.”
“The situation poses a real threat to the life and health of representatives of the media and hampers their journalistic activities,” stated the Public Defender of Georgia following the attacks.
Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria called on the law enforcement agencies to “use legal mechanisms” to remove alleged offenders from public spaces, and reminded the state authorities of their constitutional obligation to protect freedom of peaceful expression and assembly “including by responding to counter-demonstrators’ violent actions.”
This article was updated.