Ombudswoman demands cleric be held accountable for incitement to violence at Tbilisi Pride events

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria says that archpriest Spiridon Tskipurishvili (L)‘called for violence’ during the Tbilisi Pride events, while right-wing activist Zurab Makharadze was the organiser of an anti-LGBT rally on July 5., 06 Sep 2021 - 15:34, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria has asked the country’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office to launch a criminal prosecution against archpriest Spiridon Tskipirishvili and a right-wing activist and an anchor of ultra-nationalist Internet platform Alt-Info Zurab Makharadze for their role on an anti-LGBT demonstration in central Tbilisi in early July. 

Lomjaria says that there is footage ‘which directly points at criminal signs’ in the actions of the two. 

She said that Tskipurishvili urged demonstrators who gathered on Rustaveli Avenue on July 5 to hamper the Tbilisi Pride march, to ‘use violence in the name of God,’ while Makharadze was one of the organisers of the anti-LGBT rally. 

Lomjaria says that in the two months since the July 5 rally when right-wing activists attacked 53 journalists, no one has been arrested for organising the violence. 

Right-wing activists in front of the parliament building in central Tbilisi, ahead of planned Tbilisi Pride march. Photo: Nino Alavidze/

She said that criminal prosecution has been launched against 27 individuals for participation in group violence, while 53 others have been recognised as victims. 

Lomjaria says that she has no access to the investigation files, but says based on public information and media reporting that the ‘investigation is not effective.’ 

One of the journalists, Lekso Lashkarava, who was attacked on July 5, died on July 9. 

Georgian Interior Ministry has responded that there is no enough evidence in the case to file charges against Tskipurishvili and Makharadze. 

The ministry states that 31 individuals have been held accountable for their role during the July 5 rally and 700 individuals have been interrogated so far. 

Speaking about an ineffective investigation in the situation is a bit unclear," Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandre Darakhvelidze has stated. 

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has accused the United National Movement opposition of ‘sparking tension and staging provocations’ on the day.