Protesters gathered in front of the Parliament yesterday in the second day of rallies following the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava, and relocated late on July 12 outside the ruling Georgian Dream party’s headquarters, where police detained 12 on administrative offenses.
Among those detained were opposition party members Tengiz Kirtadze and Tsotne Lomidze of Girchi – More Freedom and Tazo Datunashvili of Lelo, also activists Luka Imedashvili of Shame and Shushana Matsaberidze of Droa movements, as well as Georgian Public Broadcaster anchor Irakli Absandze, according to various reports.
The detentions began as protesters egged the GD HQ and attempted to throw red paint on it. Emotions ran raw yesterday after police came out with an interim chemical forensics report on Lashkarava’s death, suggesting drug overdose could have been behind the passing of the journalist, brutally assaulted a week ago by far-right radicals. Lashkarava’s family, friends and journalist colleagues have expressed distrust toward forensics.
The apprehensions took place amid minor skirmishes between activists and the police. GPB’s Absandze reportedly broke his hand as police were detaining him. Media Advocacy Coalition, uniting more than a dozen CSOs, argued that video footage showed that Absandze had not resisted the detention.
Pointing out that the state-funded broadcaster’s journalist had been lately vocal in criticizing government officials and far-right violence on news professionals, the Coalition called on the Interior Ministry to “refrain from using such methods for harassing and intimidating journalists.”
Tensions have intensified in Tbilisi during the past two days as TV Pirveli cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava was found dead on July 11, six days after being viciously assaulted during the homophobic violence spree that erupted in the capital on July 5 in response to the Pride March, an event canceled subsequently due to lack of safety guarantees by the state.
Media professionals, activists, opposition politicians and citizens rallied on July 11 and 12, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and of his cabinet.
The deceased journalist will be buried today.
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