Ruling Georgian Dream lawmaker Rati Ionatamishvili has called on former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, William Courtney to refrain from “gravely interfering in [Georgia’s] domestic affairs.”
MP Ionatamishvili’s July 17 remarks came in reaction tothe former U.S. Ambassador’s tweet, slamming narcotics overdose version by the Georgian police in the death case of journalist Aleksandre Lashkarava as “disinformation.” “One might have expected such disinformation in an autocratic country, but not in democratic Georgia,” said Ambassador Courtney.
"Police came out with an interim chemical forensics report on #Lashkarava’s death, suggesting drug overdose could have been behind the passing."
— William Courtney (@courtneywmh) July 13, 2021
The Georgian Dream lawmaker accused former U.S. Ambassador of disregarding circumstances into the death case, and of making “irresponsible statement, that is deeply concerning.”
MP Ionatamishvili said “a former Ambassador carries special responsibility towards the country where [he] was posted in the past. He carries the responsibility to retrieve every piece of information on a matter [of concern] before making an important statement about it.”
Ambassador William Courtney served as U.S. envoy to Georgia in 1995-1997. A long-time Georgian watcher, Ambassador Courtney is an adjunct senior fellow at RAND Corporation, U.S. nonprofit.
Aleksandre (Lekso) Lashkarava, TV Pirveli cameraman, was found dead on July 11, few days after being attacked on July 5 by homophobic far-right mob at the office of Shame Movement, one of the activist groups that co-organized now-cancelled Tbilisi Pride march.
Police floated on the same day the version of narcotics overdose as an immediate reason behind the journalist’s death, and unveiled interim forensics data to back its version. Lashkarava’s family and colleagues accused the police of attempts to discredit the deceased cameraman and to shift responsibility away from the authorities that could not defend the journalist while performing his professional duties. The family said the journalist was receiving morphine to treat severe pain after surgery following theJuly 5 attack and rejected the police version.
- In Photos: Georgia Bids Farewell to Journalist Aleksandre Lashkarava
- Police Say Narcotics Overdose Possibly Behind Journalist’s Death
- TV Pirveli Cameraman, Assaulted During Anti-LGBT Violence, Found Dead