Well-known Georgian journalist attacked by drunken assailants in Tbilisi
Well-known Georgian journalist Vakho Sanaia was attacked last night by three drunken assailants in the center of Tbilisi along with his family.
The attackers were not stopped by the fact that at the time of the attack, Sanaia was traveling with his young child.
The incident occurred at night, during the curfew.
Vakho Sanaia told Formula TV, the independent channel for which he works, that as a result of the attack, he received injuries to his head, arms, and legs, and is now suffering from severe headaches.
“The attackers were aggressive towards me because I am a journalist, they were cursing television and journalists – our channel, TV Pirveli, all TV channels. I think this is just the way people react to criticism – by attacking us and our families”, said Vakho Sanaia.
Sanaia also explained that at first, one of the attackers started to threaten him.
“All three of them were drunk, one of them took off his scarf, hat, and told me to remember his face well”.
The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs later announced that the three men have been detained. They face up to two years in prison if convicted.
Reaction to the attack
The Center for Human Rights Education and Monitoring links the attack on Vakho Sanaia to the political polarization of Georgian society.
“It is necessary to note the issue of ineffective investigation of other cases of attacks on journalists. For example, the injuring of dozens of journalists during the dispersal of a protest rally on June 20, 2019, has not yet been investigated. As a result, we are now witnessing an atmosphere of lawlessness, hostility, and tension within our society”, the statement reads.
The Center for Human Rights Education and Monitoring calls on the prime minister, government, and members of parliament to issue a statement and strongly condemn any violence against media workers.
The Charter of Journalistic Ethics also responded to the attack on Sanaia by saying that the government enables such attacks with aggressive rhetoric.
“The Charter calls on the authorities to stop talking about norms to restrict freedom of thought, speech and expression and, instead, support freedom of the media by refraining from attacking media representatives, even if the latter appears critical of the country’s authorities”, the statement said.
Opposition parties also issued a joint statement, commenting on the attack:
“An extremely dangerous and provocative environment is being created, and it is encouraged by the Ivanishvili regime”, the statement explained.
The joint statement goes on to say that violence against political opponents or opposition-minded citizens, lawlessness, and encouragement of the violence has already become the hallmark of the Georgian Dream.
Another statement was issued by the speaker of the Georgian parliament and a member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Archil Talakvadze who condemned the attack and said that “response must be both timely and effective”.