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RSF condemned attempts by security forces to discredit Lekso Lashkarava

13.07.2021, 13:24
Photo credit: RSF
Photo credit: RSF

“Reporters without borders” condemned the attempts by Georgian security forces to discredit Pirveli operator Lekso Lashkarava and called on local authorities to conduct an objective and transparent investigation into his death and radical attacks on journalists during the July 5 riots in Tbilisi.

“Cameraman Aleksandr “Lekso” Lashkarava died after being seriously injured while covering a counter-demonstration by homophobic far-rightists. “Reporters Without Borders” demands an in-depth, impartial and transparent official investigation of the circumstances of Lashkarava’s death,”  RSF reported.

Human rights activists said the Georgian Interior Ministry had launched an investigation into "incitement to suicide" to determine the exact cause of the cameraman's death. But during a press conference, a representative of the Georgian security forces suggested that the cause of Lashkarava's death could be a drug overdose.

At the same time, the Georgian Ministry of Health has launched its investigation into the adequacy of medical services at the clinic where the victim was treated and discharged on July 8.

Lashkarava’s family, which does not trust the government, unsuccessfully opposed the taking of his body for a forensic examination. Some relatives said that he had had a nose bleed, and suspect a thromboembolism resulting from his injuries.

“After the coordinated attack on more than 50 journalists, the suspicious death of Aleksandr Lashkarava marks a disastrous turning point for the freedom to inform in Georgia,” said Jeanne Cavalier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“Instead of trying to discredit the late cameraman, we demand that the Interior Ministry launch an in-depth, impartial and transparent investigation of the circumstances of his death and of the attacks suffered by journalists whom the police failed to protect. Officials’ passivity in the face of this extreme attempt at intimidation of journalists by homophobic movements erodes the credibility of the government, which should not tolerate impunity, and which must accept its share of responsibility in the matter.”

As IMI reported, on July 11, it became known that the cameraman Lekso Lashkarava had died in Tbilisi . He had been beaten on July 5 by opponents of the LGBT community march. In this regard, an action demanding the resignation of the government took place on July 11 in Tbilisi and other cities.

On July 11, a number of Georgian media outlets issued a joint statement saying that cases of violations of journalists' rights were "approaching a boiling point,"  The media also called for the resignation of the full Georgian government, led by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, threatening protests.

On July 5, at least 47 journalists in Tbilisi were aggressed by opponents of the LGBTQ + march. According to local media, 16 media outlets, including journalists, photographers and cameramen, were injured.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia stated that an investigation has been launched under two articles of the Criminal Code of Georgia - 154 ("Illegal obstruction of journalists in their professional activities") and 126 ("Violence").

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