TV Pirveli Crew Attacked, Journalist Says

Government-critical TV Pirveli journalist Nanuka Kajaia and her cameraman Papuna Chakhidze were reportedly attacked by two men in the Saburtalo neighborhood, Tbilisi.

Per Kajaia, they had gone to Viktor Dolidze street to record a doctor at a clinic when the attackers attempted to snatch her microphone and damage their tech.

“Afterwards, they verbally insulted and cursed us. They tried to prevent us from carrying out our professional duties and were very aggressive,” the TV Pirveli journalist recalled.

Lali Janashia, the respondent that the journalist had been recording, told TV Pirveli that while taping the interview, one of the men “grabbed the microphone, or the microphone’s wind muff” from the journalist and threw it away.

“They were cursing with terrible, ugly words, not only against the journalist, who had done nothing wrong but towards the entire TV channel, all opposition channels, that you are spreading lies… have destroyed the country [and so on],” Janashvili added.

In the video released by TV Pirveli of the incident, one of the men can be heard cursing the group, “Move the camera, [or] I’ll break it over your head.”

The Special Investigative Services of Georgia (SIS) started an investigation under Article 154(2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which refers to unlawful interference with a journalist’s professional activities. The crime is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.

The Media Advocacy Coalition, a group of press freedom watchers, urged the SIS to carry out an “immediate” investigation of the incident.

This is the second attack this week against a TV Pirveli media worker in Georgia. On June 19 in Batumi, Georgia’s coastal city, TV cameraman was verbally and physically assaulted while performing his professional duties.

The attacks come amid increased concerns over press freedoms in Georgia, which have significantly declined since the homophobic pogroms of July 5, 2021, per Reporter Without Borders, a Paris-based watchdog. In July last year, over 50 media workers covering counterdemonstrations to LGBT Tbilisi Pride were brutally assaulted by far-right mobs.

On June 9, the European Parliament passed a resolution on “violations of media freedom and safety of journalists in Georgia” which slammed the Georgian Dream authorities over their handling of press freedoms and dealt a severe blow to the country’s now dashed, hopes for EU candidacy status.

TV Pirveli cited Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili reacting to the news: “in our country, unfortunately, the media is devoid of journalism and is the creator of the political agenda, not covering politics.” “Any violence should be condemned, especially against a journalist.”

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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