"The prime minister must resign" – thousands come out in protest in Tbilisi. Photo report
Tbilisi demands resignation of Prime Minister
A rally of many thousands is taking place in Tbilisi in front of the parliament building, with protesters demanding the resignation of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
The rally was spontaneously planned on Facebook by activists and journalists after it became known that Lekso Lashkarava, a cameraman for Pirveli TV, had died after he was severely beaten while covering the July 5 rally by homophobic groups in Tbilisi.
Thousands of Tbilisi residents are in front of the parliament, including hundreds of journalists. Almost all opposition politicians and human rights activists are also participating. The only TV channel that is not broadcasting live the action is pro-government TV company Imedi.
Those gathered on Rustaveli Avenue believe that the July 5 violence was provoked by the authorities, who were unable to fend off radical homophobic and ultra-right groups. The police were not mobilized in adequate numbers and proper security measures were not taken, as a result of which hundreds of radicals beat activists and journalists in the city center; 55 people were taken to hospitals.
Traffic is limited on Rustaveli Avenue – protesters have blocked the road.
The speakers are mainly journalists.
“Journalists have always come to this square to speak about the rallies. But the government of Georgia, step by step, brought us to the point that today we are holding a protest action here. And we will see it through to the end. Let no one think that this is just one day of protest,” Diana Trapaidze, anchorwoman of Pirveli TV channel, said from the rostrum.
“Our struggle will continue until we hold the authorities accountable for the murder. Bidzina Ivanishvili [the oligarch who is considered the shadow ruler of Georgia] has time to think until the morning.
From now on, Garibashvili is no longer our prime minister. A hardworking young guy who was beaten into a trap and killed. You no longer have any rights. This government must go.”
Beaten journalists, the inaction of the PM
On July 5, a March of Dignity was to take place in Tbilisi during the Pride Week. The procession along the central Rustaveli Avenue was scheduled for 18:00.
The Georgian Patriarchate opposed the march and called on its supporters to take to the streets of the country from the “perverted way of life.”
The clergy directly called the radicals to violence, in particular, Archimandrite Spiridon addressed the crowd with catches: “Don’t you need violence? Violence is needed to save the Motherland! “
On the morning of July 5, homophobic groups marched outside the parliament building. First, they smashed the opposition tents that had stood in front of the parliament building since October 2020 as a sign of the political process. They then began to hunt down journalists who arrived at the scene to report on the events.
53 journalists were severely beaten and taken to hospitals.
According to observers, the actions of the radicals were provoked by a statement by Prime Minister Garibashvili on July 5.
The Georgian prime minister blamed the escalation not on the radicals and homophobes who attacked peaceful protesters, but on the organizers of the March of Dignity, and urged them not to march along Rustaveli Avenue.
Garibashvili said that the planned “March of Dignity” “is inappropriate and dangerous for society, as it is destabilizing.” He also said that the opposition is behind the march of dignity.
The “March of Dignity” was canceled, but the riots on Rustaveli Avenue continued for several more hours.
According to journalists, there were critically few police on the scene during the day. The special forces were not called, despite the very tense situation and beatings.
The Minister of Internal Affairs replied that “as many security officials were mobilized as possible.”
Journalists tell how radicals chased them. Among them were Lekso Lashkarava, operator of the Pirveli TV channel, and his colleague Miranda Bagaturia. They were attacked while preparing a report from the office of the non-governmental organization Shame.
Miranda Bagaturia tells how Lashkarava was kicked by about 20 people, among them there were priests.
Lashkarava was taken to hospital with a fracture of his facial bone, he was urgently operated on. Three days later he was discharged to complete treatment at home. The day before his death, on June 10, the Pirveli TV channel aired an interview with him, where he talked about the events of July 5. And the next morning, his mother found him dead in his own bed.
Family members say Lashkarava was bleeding from his nose. According to one of the versions of his relatives, he died of thromboembolism as a result of his injuries.
The forensic experts then removed the young man’s body from the house without the consent of the family. He was simply wrapped in blue plastic, carried out without a stretcher, put in a car and taken away for examination.
Such treatment of the deceased became another reason for public outrage and discussion at the rally and on social networks.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation into the incident under the article on incitement to suicide – and this also causes great indignation and bewilderment in society.