US DOS comments on death of TV Pirveli cameraman, discusses possibility of sanctions against Georgia
US State Department spokesman Ned Price spoke at a daily briefing about the possible use of sanctions against Georgia in connection with the July 5-6 events in Georgia. According to him, sanctions are one of the weapons of the United States, which is not announced beforehand, but the United States is closely following developments in Georgia.
Ned Price expressed regret over the death of Lekso Lashkarava and noted the need to detain the criminals and bring them to justice:
“We call for peace and an end to the violence which has already led to the tragic death of one person”.
Those who incited violence should also be held accountable, he said:
“The safety of every Georgian journalist and the credibility of democracy in Georgia requires that every person who attacked peaceful demonstrators and journalists on July 5-6, or those who incited violence, be identified, arrested and prosecuted in full compliance with the law”.
The Department of State spokesman also reminded Georgian leaders and politicians of their responsibility to protect freedom of the press, as well as constitutional human and journalistic rights:
“We remind Georgia’s leaders and its law enforcement of their responsibility to protect all of those exercising their constitutional rights. We remind them of their responsibility to protect journalists exercising freedom of the press. We call on all Georgians, Georgian officials to publicly condemn this kind of violence, which has no place in a democracy.
We proudly advocate for LGBTQ + rights around the world and the protection of LGBTQ people from violence, criminalization, discrimination, and stigma. We strive to strengthen local LGBT movements. We are categorically against violence against the LGBT + community and, of course, in this case, gross violence against a deceased journalist.
As for the Prime Minister and his future, this must, of course, be decided by Georgian people”.
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- TV Pirveli cameraman dies after being attacked by far-right groups during July 5 anti-LGBT rally in Tbilisi
The situation in Georgia has worsened after the death of the operator of the TV Pirveli channel Lekso Lashkarava. Lashkarava, who was severely beaten by ultra-right homophobic groups on 5 July in the line of duty, died on July 11. Journalists, opposition, NGOs, and civil society blamed the government for the incident as the government failed to protect peaceful protesters from criminals on July 5.
The March of Dignity was scheduled to take place on July 5 in Tbilisi as part of Pride Week. In order to disrupt this event, on July 5, homophobic groups took to the streets following the call from the Georgian Patriarchate.
Observers note that, despite the fact that the city has been subjected to violence by radicals in the morning, the authorities failed to mobilize a sufficient number of security officials to protect the safety of citizens.
The July 5 march was canceled and LGBTQ representatives did not take to the streets, but homophobes continued to attack people in the city center, and target journalists. On July 5 and 6, 53 journalists were injured in Tbilisi.
According to experts, the actions of homophobic groups were also facilitated by the statement of Prime Minister Garibashvili on the morning of July 5. He accused the organizers of the March of Dignity of a possible complication of the situation in the country and urged them not to go to Rustaveli Avenue. Garibashvili said the planned March of Dignity was “inappropriate” and dangerous as well as orchestrated by the opposition.
As a result, the March of Dignity was canceled, but the violence on Rustaveli Avenue continued for several more hours.