ISFED reflects on the facts of group violence committed against media representatives on July 5, 2021

On July 5, 2021, violent rallies were held on Rustaveli Avenue demanding a ban on the March of Dignity, which were mainly organized by the leaders of Alt-Info and a political party Georgian Idea. The July 5 violence was also preceded by the statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, where he assessed the March of Dignity planned by Tbilisi Pride as an opposition-managed effort to bring chaos and civil disorder.

The gathering of organized violent groups on Rustaveli Avenue spiraled into physical attacks on the offices of civil organizations and journalists, during which more than 50 media representatives were injured and some of them were seriously abused. The operator of TV Pirveli, Alexander Lashkarava, who suffered physical injuries on July 5, 2021, died a few days later at his home.

ISFED believes that the violent gathering on July 5, 2021 was not spontaneous, but rather, it is the logical result of years of deliberate spreading of hate speech and anti-Western messages by radical and Kremlin-affiliated groups. Prior to the violent protests, Alt-Info leaders used social media to openly call on people to take action against Pride Week, including using violence, presenting the issue as everyone's duty.

As a result of the investigation, a number of people who directly committed the violence have been arrested. However, one year after these events, the organizers and instigators of mass violence remain unpunished, despite numerous evidences available to everyone in the public space. A part of the Georgian citizens, the LGBTQI+ community and its supporters, find it difficult to realize their right to peaceful assembly and demonstration guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia.

ISFED calls on law enforcement institutes to fully investigate the criminal offenses committed on July 5 of 2021 and to bring justice upon the organizers of the group violence.