Foreign officials and media organisations have demanded an impartial investigation into the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, who was attacked by right wing protesters on July 5 during the Tbilisi Pride counter-rally and later passed away on July 11.
On July 12 the Georgian Interior Ministry said a drug overdose may be the reason for Lekso Lashkarava’s death.
Head of Central Criminal Police Mamuka Tchelidze said although the forensic examination is still underway to reveal the exact reason for Lashkarava’s death, the sample taken from the corpse contained several different drugs, including morphine and codeine.
Jeanne Cavalier, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, has called on the Georgian government to impartially investigate the circumstances of Lashkarava’s death and the attacks on dozens of journalists on July 5.
After the coordinated attack on more than 50 journalists, the suspicious death of Aleksandr Lashkarava marks a disastrous turning point for the freedom to inform in Georgia… Instead of trying to discredit the late cameraman, we demand that the Interior Ministry launch an in-depth, impartial and transparent investigation of the circumstances of his death and of the attacks suffered by journalists whom the police failed to protect”, says Cavalier.
The Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety (IRFS) has also responded to the death of Lashkarava, noting that the radical followers of Georgian Orthodox Church are responsible for his death.
The radical followers of GEO????????Orthodox Church, responsible for the death of Lexo #Lashkarava, and who recently attacked dozens of journos & members of the #LGBT/#TbilisiPride community, are as much terrorists as the Islamic radicals who carried out the massacre at #charliehebdo. pic.twitter.com/nRoqwp0RGp— @IRFS_ORG (@IRFS_ORG) July 12, 2021
In his Twitter post US Congressman Bill Keating says the Georgian government must meet the commitment they have made and conduct a full and transparent investigation into Lashkarava’s death and the violence that took place on July 5.
The Georgian government must meet the commitment they have made and conduct a full and transparent investigation into Mr. Lashkarava's death and the violence that took place that day.— Congressman Bill Keating (@USRepKeating) July 12, 2021
French Ambassador to Georgia Diego Colas has also responded to the death of Lekso Lashkarava, noting that during the meeting on July 12 at the Georgian Interior Ministry, foreign diplomats ‘reaffirmed strong disappointment with the breakdown of constitutional order and massive violations of human rights on July 5 in Tbilisi’.
We diplomats had a meeting yesterday at the MIA. We reaffirmed strong disappointment with the breakdown of const order, massive violations of HR on 7/5 in Tbilisi. Instead of divisive words, we called on govt to recommit to protect all incl minorities, ????️????, press.— Diégo Colas (@ColasDiego) July 13, 2021
US Senator Jim Risch and the US Congressman Adam Kinzinger have condemned the attacks on journalists.
In his Twitter post Risch says attacks against journalists, tourists and civil society in Georgia are reprehensible.
Attacks against journalists, tourists & civil society in #Georgia are reprehensible. I pray for Mr. Lashkarava & his family – those responsible for the violence should be fully prosecuted. Rule of law supports peaceful protestors, not violent perpetrators. Georgia must do better.— Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member (@SenateForeign) July 12, 2021
On July 6 Kinzinger noted he was committed to discovering who was behind the violence against the LGBT community.
I have been monitoring the violence in Tbilisi, and stand by our embassy’s statement. I am committed to discovering who was behind the violence on the LGBT community. America believes in freedom. https://t.co/eMyNDYx8J9— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 6, 2021
The Congressman's Office also responded to the July 5 violence in an interview with the Voice of America, stating that those who have been detained for the violence must be held accountable for their crimes.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde has expressed condolences over the death of TV Pirveli cameraman. In her Twitter post Linde notes that violence against journalists and members of LGBTIQ community completely unacceptable.
Chocked by the tragic death of Lekso Lashkarava. My deepest condolences to his family & friends. Violence against journalists and members of LGBTIQ community completely unacceptable and needs to be deplored. The perpetrators must be brought to justice #tbilisipride #Georgia— Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) July 12, 2021
TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava will be buried today at Jikia cemetery in Tbilisi.