Alexander Lashkarava, a cameraman for Georgian broadcaster TV Pirveli, was found dead at his home on July 11 days after sustaining serious injuries while covering an attack by far-right groups on Pride celebrations in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
Lashkarava had been badly beaten by far-right demonstrators who violently disrupted Tbilisi Pride on July 5 and targeted journalists who were covering the event. Over 50 journalists were injured, including several who were hospitalized.
The Associated Press reported that Lashkarava was beaten by a mob of at least 20 people. He sustained multiple injuries and had to undergo surgery but was discharged from the hospital on Thursday, July 8.
The executive director of TV Pirveli, Nana Aburjanidze, said that only four people have been detained over the attack on Lashkarava, even though at least 10 people can be recognized from the footage on his camera.
“We are demanding action from the authorities towards everyone involved”, Aburjanidze told IPI. “The law enforcement should have been better prepared to protect journalists during the protests. We lost a good man who went through a lot of pain. This is a direct attack on media, and I’ve never seen anything like this happening in Georgia before. We have to raise our voices and protect free press in our country.”
The death of Lashkarava underscores the seriousness of the crimes against the press and the urgency with which Georgian authorities must investigate them. After Lashkarava’s tragic death there is even greater need for accountability to ensure the safety and freedom of press in the country.
“IPI is deeply saddened by the death of Alexander Lashkarava and we offer our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “While the exact cause of death is not yet known, this tragedy underscores the horror of last week’s unprecedented attack on the press in Georgia.
“Georgian authorities must find and prosecute every single person who participated in the mass violence against journalist, including Mr. Lashkarava. Moreover, there needs to be an official investigation into why security forces failed to stop this brutality, and measures put in place to prevent such attacks in the future.”
Lashkarava’s death spurred protests in Georgia, which demonstrators calling for the resignation of the country’s prime minister.