Pride Week Death in Georgia Prompts Anti-Government Protest

Thousands of protesters rallied against the government in Tbilisi after a cameraman who was beaten during a Pride Week event in the Georgia capital died.

Lesko Lashkarava was beaten when anti-LGBTQ+ protesters attacked community activists and journalists in the Georgian capital on July 5, leading organizers to abandon a planned Pride Week march. Lashkarava’s death, reported by police on Sunday, was condemned by the European Union’s ambassador to Georgia, Carl Hartzell.

Protesters demanded the government resign, saying it failed to provide public safety for the Pride organizers and media representatives. While the government has arrested several suspects in the attack on the gathering, the protesters said many others got away. Georgia’s Interior Ministry said it’s investigating Lashkarava’s death.

“I call the entire government with its leader, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, to resign by tomorrow morning and punish those responsible,” journalist Vakho Sanaia told the crowd. “You have failed the people. Resignation is not enough,. You should be held responsible.”

The U.S., the EU and countries including the U.K., Norway and Israel have criticized “the failure of the government leaders and religious officials to condemn this violence.” Garibashvili had warned that the march on Tbilisi’s main avenue could lead to clashes because most of the public viewed it as “unacceptable.”

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