First of all, the Ministry of Internal Affairs condemns actions motivated by violence, including any form of violence against media representatives. We call on citizens gathered in the streets of the capital to observe law and order, adhere to the rightful requests of the police and protest any issue within the frames of the law.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation with regard to illegal activities carried out at the offices of the “Shame Movement” and “Tbilisi Pride” in Tbilisi under the Article 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which envisages damage or destruction of another person’s property.
“We condemn today’s violent attacks on the civic activists, community members and journalists, as well as the failure of the government leaders and religious officials to condemn this violence,” reads a joint statement of the Embassies of Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, the European Union Monitoring Mission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, UN system in Georgia, the United States, and the EU Delegation to Georgia.
According to the statement, “those who incite or threaten violence or commit violent acts are interfering with the efforts of Georgia’s law enforcement professionals to uphold a safe and secure environment.” “They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We call on all Georgia’s leaders and law enforcement to act swiftly to protect those exercising their Constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly, to protect journalists exercising freedom of the press, and to publicly condemn violence.
Participation in peaceful gatherings is a human right guaranteed by Georgia’s Constitution. Violence is simply unacceptable and cannot be excused,” the statement reads.
Members of the ultranationalist groups rallied on Rustaveli avenue hours before the Tbilisi Pride march. They aggressively thwarted reporters to do their work. Georgian Public Broadcaster’s First Channel cameraman Ilia Tvaliashvili was injured during the protest.
The anti-Pride rally participants gathered at Kashveti Church to attend prayer service announced by the Patriarchate “after the parishioners’ plea.” The Georgian Patriarchate echoed the Tbilisi Pride Week on June 29 and has urged the population to gather at Kashveti Church and show the world that any attempt to degenerate Georgian people is utterly unacceptable.
The tension mounted as anti-Pride protesters stormed the Pride office on Akhvlediani Street in downtown Tbilisi. Rioters hiked up the second-floor balcony of the building as the police blocked the main door. They removed the LGBTQ Pride colours, burnt them and hang the Georgian national flag.
Georgian Interior Ministry (MIA) urged Tbilisi Pride Week organizers to cancel the March of Dignity since various protesting groups were holding counter-rallies on Rustaveli avenue. MIA reported on increased security risks.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili also echoed the march, saying that “it is inappropriate as it poses a threat of civil strife.”
Tbilisi Pride Week kicked off on July 1.
At least twenty journalists have been attacked by hate groups gathered in a counter-rally against today’s Tbilisi Pride March, according to the latest media reports.
Those attacked include journalists and cameramen from television channels TV Pirveli, Formula TV, Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, Georgian Public Broadcaster, Mtavari Arkhi and online media outlets On.ge, Netgazeti and Tabula, reports say.
TV Pirveli said counterprotesters smashed its equpments, while Tabula Magazine noted its journalist Mako Jabua was hit by a stick. Several journalists reportedly sustained various degrees of injuries.
The Interior Ministry said it has launched investigations into cases of interference with journalist’s professional activities (Article 154, Criminal Code) and violence (Article 126). The statement did not specify how many incidents have taken place.
The statement also called on Tbilisi Pride activists not to hold the March “in an open public space” because of the “scale” of the ongoing counter-rally.
“The situation poses a real threat to the life and health of representatives of the media and hampers their journalistic activities,” stated the Public Defender of Georgia following the attacks.
Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria called on the law enforcement agencies to “use legal mechanisms” to remove alleged offenders from public spaces, and reminded the state authorities of their constitutional obligation to protect freedom of peaceful expression and assembly “including by responding to counter-demonstrators’ violent actions.”
On 24 June, the European Union and UNDP launched a new project – EU for Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea (EU4EMBLAS) – to further boost the efforts to improve protection of the Black Sea environment.
EU4EMBLAS builds on the results of previous phases of the project, which have tackled the deficiencies and limitations in marine data availability, supported development of the Black Sea Water Quality Databases, assessment and classification schemes, as well as addressed public involvement in marine litter reduction and environmental protection through local small-scale actions, campaigns and events.
EU4EMBLAS will primarily help to establish modern systems and facilities to support marine environmental monitoring in Georgia and Ukraine and strengthen national capacities for application of modern analytical methods, data management and assessment related to marine environmental monitoring. Increased public awareness on Black Sea environmental issues and education of the young generation will continue to be an integral part of the programme.
Key actors include national institutions involved in the Black Sea monitoring, as well as national authorities, research / scientific / educational organisations, and civil society organisations.
The material is prepared within the project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"