Stockholm, July 12, 2021 – In response to the death of TV Pirveli camera operator Aleksandre “Lekso” Lashkarava yesterday in Georgia, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Georgian authorities must thoroughly investigate whether Lekso Lashkarava died as a result of the assault he suffered while covering a demonstration,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy executive director. “Those who attacked him and some 50 other journalists during a disgraceful display of anti-media violence should be brought to justice.”
Yesterday morning, Lashkarava’s mother found the journalist, 37, dead in his home in Tbilisi, the capital, according to multiple news reports. An official cause of death has not been announced, those reports said.
On July 5, a group of people demonstrating against a planned LGBT-pride march in the city attacked Lashkarava and dozens of other journalists, as CPJ documented at the time.
Lashkavara sustained a concussion and broken bones in his face, and underwent surgery as a result of the attack; he was discharged from a hospital on July 8 to recover at home, according to news reports. His colleague, Miranda Bagaturia, said that Lashkarava had complained of severe pain on the day of his death, those reports said.
Police have launched a criminal investigation into his death under Article 115 of the Georgian criminal code, which pertains to “driving a person to suicide,” according to reports, which said that article is often used when a body is found without an obvious cause of death.
At the request of Lashkarava’s family, an independent expert will join the journalist’s post-mortem examination, those reports said. Five individuals have been arrested for “physical and verbal abuse” of the TV Pirveli camera crew at the July 5 protest, according to a statement by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.