Georgian interior minister on opposition demands: I will resign if ruling party decides so

People protesting the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Lashkarava and demanding the resignation of PM Garibashvili and Interior MinIster Gomelauri on July 17 in front of the parliament building. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 23 Jul 2021 - 14:24, Tbilisi,Georgia

The ruling Georgian Dream party will decide who is responsible for the violent events of July 5, Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri said on TV channel Rustavi 2 yesterday, responding to recent demands for his resignation from the opposition, journalists and NGOs. 

Gomelauri noted that it is the ruling party’s responsibility to punish all who committed violence against journalists at the Tbilisi Pride counter rally. 

​​If the team (ruling party) decides that I should resign, of course, I will obey that decision,” said Gomelauri. 

He condemned the violence against media on that day and said that free media and free journalists are the achievements of an independent Georgia, stating that the violence which took place at the counter rally was unprecedented. 

I have been working in law enforcement for more than 27 years, I do not remember anything like that, not even at the rallies of the 90s,” Gomelauri noted.

Interior Minister Gomelauri expressed his condolences for deceased TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, who was violently attacked by right-wing counter protesters of the Tbilisi Pride march on July 5 and found dead at home later on July 11.

He noted the Ministry of Internal Affairs ‘was forced’ to publish footage of Lashkarava from the day before his death, which showed his route with a friend to Ponichala - a suburb of Tbilisi - and hinted that the possible reason for death could be a drug overdose. 

I had no desire for the footage to be published and for his (Lekso Lashkarava) mother and family to see it. It was very hard for me and I am very sorry that we had to do so,” said Gomelauri. 

Gomelauri underlined the Ministry did not stated the drug overdose as the reason of Lashkarava's death. He said police was sharing how the investigation was going on because of the high public interest to this case. " We also detained the drug-dealer, who sold  the drug to Lashkarava, now only him but also 27 the other drug- dealers starting from June 2 till present," stated Gomelauri. 

Minister Gomelauri also said that all offenders should be punished with full severity ‘so that no one would dare to do such a thing in the future,’ Gomelauri stated. 

Gomelauri said that the ‘investigation begins with the executors and then it goes higher’ to the organisers. 

He also touched upon the topic of his disrupted hearing by opposition politicians in the parliament on July 18 regarding the violent events of the Tbilisi Pride counter rally and called it a ‘circus.’

If parliament summons me, within its rules, I am obliged to go and give answers,” said Gomelauri.

Opposition parties, representatives of media and NGOs have been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Garibashvili and Interior Minister Gomelauri since the death of Lekso Lashkarava.