Georgia: Journalist beaten in anti-LGBTQ attack dies | News | DW | 11.07.2021

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Georgia: Journalist beaten in anti-LGBTQ attack dies

Alexander Lashkarava's death has triggered protests in Tbilisi as anger builds up against Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili's government.

Activists hold posters during a rally in memory of Lashkarava

Protesters rallied in memory of Lashkarava

A Georgian cameraman who was badly beaten by far-right assailants during a protest against an LGBTQ Pride march was found dead at home, his television station said Sunday.

Georgia's Interior Ministry announced in a brief statement Sunday that a criminal investigation into the journalist's death following the attack last Monday had been opened. 

The same day Lashkarava was beaten, over 50 other journalists were also attacked by homophobic groups protesting a planned Pride march.

Violence against LGBTQ communities in Georgia had forced organizers to cancel the planned march, sparking an international outcry.

Anti-LGBTQ protesters burn a rainbow banner.

Anti-LGBTQ protesters staged violent demonstrations against the planned Pride march

What we know about Lashkarava's death

The 37-year-old cameraman was found dead in his bed in the early hours of Sunday, his employer said.

Lashkarava was working for independent TV station Pirveli. He sustained fractures to his facial bones after he was attacked by a violent mob last Monday.

According to media reports, he had to undergo surgery but was discharged from a hospital on Thursday.

Neither Pirveli nor authorities disclosed the cause of Lashkarava's death.

Protesters rally in memory of Lashkarava

Thousands marched in Tbilisi on Sunday to demand Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili's resignation and prosecution of those responsible for Lashkarava's death.

Prominent Georgian TV personalities and journalists have accused Garibashvili's government of orchestrating a violent campaign against journalists.

"The government not only encourages violence against journalists, it is part of the violence," Nodar Meladze, TV Pirveli's news editor, told the AFP news agency.

"The government has set up violent groups to attack independent media," he said, adding that "riot police have also repeatedly targeted journalists."

In 2019, riot police injured around 40 journalists covering anti-government protests.

An aerial view of a crowd of Georgian opposition supporters outside the parliament in 2019.

Anti-government protests rocked Georgia in 2019, with thousands of people demanding the government's resignation

Critics have also accused Garibashvili's ruling party of tacitly supporting homophobic and nationalist groups.

Garibashvili had said holding the Pride march was "unacceptable for a large segment of Georgian society," triggering a backlash from rights groups and opposition activists.

fb/jlw (AFP, Reuters)