Tbilisi, Georgia: Opposition lawmakers in Georgia on Monday disrupted parliament to demand the prime minister’s resignation after a cameraman died, blaming the ruling party for the latest attack on journalists.
Alexander Lashkarava, who worked for an independent TV news channel called Pirveli, died on Sunday — days after he was beaten by far-right activists during a protest against an LGBTQ Pride march.
Lashkarava’s death spurred demonstrations on Sunday outside parliament, drawing about 8,000 people.
On Monday, several opposition lawmakers occupied the parliament speaker’s seat and demanded Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stand down.
They claimed he and the ruling Georgian Dream party had allowed violence against media workers.
Footage aired by the independent Mtavari TV station showed chaotic scenes with opposition parliamentarians scuffling with ruling party MPs.
The session resumed after four female MPs, who had occupied the speaker’s chair, were forcibly removed from the room.
Lashkarava was assaulted last Monday by violent anti-LGBTQ protesters and sustained fractures to his facial bones.
More than 50 journalists were injured that day by anti-LGBTQ groups protesting against the planned march, which was canceled over safety fears.
The United States and European Union condemned the attacks on journalists and called for those responsible to be prosecuted.
A new anti-government rally was announced on Monday evening, as demonstrators vowed to stage daily protests until Garibashvili resigns.
The prime minister described the protest movement as an anti-church conspiracy led by exiled ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and said it was “doomed”.
He again promised a prompt investigation into Lashkarava’s death, which he said earlier was “an incredible tragedy.”
Prominent Georgian TV personalities and managers have accused Garibashvili’s government of orchestrating a violent campaign against journalists.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused authorities of “culpable passivity”.
Georgian Dream’s critics have accused the party of tacitly supporting homophobic and nationalist groups, who have also staged protests against pro-Western opposition parties.