Thousands have gathered outside the Parliament of Georgia demanding the resignation and the prosecution of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the Government, in the aftermath of the death of Aleksandre (Lekso) Lashkarava, TV Pirveli cameraman.
The protest was called by Shame Movement and Droa activist groups, while journalists from various media outlets made key addresses at the rally. Organizers said they were giving the government time until July 12 midday, to resign.
Lashkarava was found dead in his apartment today, few days after he was brutally beaten up by far-right, anti-LGBT pride march mob in downtown Tbilisi on July 5, while he was performing his professional duties. Foreinsic examinations, not trusted by the family, are underway to establish exact causes of death.
“We are all mourning,” addressed the crowd Eka Mishveladze, TV Pirveli anchor. “Thank you to those of you here, those on their way here, supporting this country; the country that has no future at the hands of this government; the country where journalists are not allowed to do their job; [the country] where journalists are killed while they do their jobs and Lekso was killed!,” asserted Mishveladze. Addressing the Georgian Dream government, Mishveladze said: “We will not cover anything you do. Your lies must finish. We will show you the power of media.”
Inga Grigolia, veteran journalist and anchor working for TV Pirveli, accused the government of greenlighting violence on the fifth of July, which resulted in attacks against at least 53 journalists. “That day, the government arranged a special operation against the Georgian media… Where were the police, if that was not planned by you?!”
Grigolia also slammed the authorities over the recent press briefing regarding the death case, where Mamuka Chelidze, the Director of the Central Criminal Police Department at the Interior Ministry floated as “possible” the version of narcotic overdose. Calling the government “shameless,” she expressed her distrust towards the ongoing forensic examination into Lashkarava’s body.
The veteran journalist also lashed out at the Orthodox Church clergy, that led protest against Tbilisi Pride march on July 5. “My religion and my church, that I love, distances itself from violence… Shame on those [men] with beards [referring to the clergy – editor] or without, that pursued special operation against us.”
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Vakho Sanaia, Formula TV anchor, who served at TV Pirveli earlier, said at the rally addressing the government: “we will defeat you. No one could win the war against journalists in this country, and we will win this war too.”
Sanaia asserted that the resignation in itself was not enough, adding that PM “Garibashvili, and the Government of Georgia, that arranged Russian special operation in the center of the capital, that killed our colleague… must be punished.” “This was a murder – Russian-financed forces, the Patriarchate-organized forces, that collaborate with the Georgian Government, must be punished.”
Diana Trapaidze, another veteran journalist at TV Pirveli, also slammed the government at the rally, arguing that the Georgian Dream possesses no moral right to speculate about the wrongoings committed by its arch rival, the United National Movement administration of 2003-2012.
“For the whole nine years…[in 2012-2021, the Georgian Dream government]… is speculating with the dates of previous nine years, that they have not experienced themselves, but we did. I, the person that suffered damage in those nine years [of the UNM rule], tell you, you have no moral right to speak about any of those dates.”