CoE: Unidentified Men Attack Crews with Georgian Public Broadcaster
CoE: Unidentified Men Attack Crews with Georgian Public Broadcaster

The Council of Europe echoed the attack on the filming crews of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) in Dmanisi town on May 17. The CoE webpage published an article of the Committee to Protect Journalists, an American independent non-profit and non-governmental organization, about the fact.

“On 17 May 2021, unidentified men attacked and verbally harassed film crews working with the Georgian public broadcaster Pirveli Arkhi in the city of Dmanisi, where they were reporting on street clashes between local ethnic Azeris and Georgians, according to news reports. Pirveli Arkhi CEO Tinatin Berdzenishvili told CPJ that none of the journalists required hospitalisation for their injuries.

Correspondent Giorgi Koberidze told CPJ that three separate Pirveli Arkhi film crews were reporting on the clashes when a man punched reporter Rezi Khutsishvili in the stomach, and then another hit photographer Mirian Meladze on the back, pushed him to the ground, and kicked him in the head. Another man hit camera operator Shota Chokheli in the face and tried to steal his camera, and an unidentified person threw a rock that hit technician Zurab Failodze, injuring his neck. Koberidze himself and the other members of the crews were not injured in the clashes. The men also aggressively yelled to “go away” and stop filming. Koberidze told CPJ he believed the Pirveli Arkhi crew members were targeted because they were clearly identifiable as journalists and were filming the clashes.

The Ministry of the Interior of Georgia issued a statement on 17 May saying that police had identified the people involved in the fighting and were investigating. News reports said that several people had been detained for their actions during the clashes. On 19 May, the Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria released a statement expressing concern about the assaults on the journalists and called for those responsible to be held to account.

Berdzenishivili told CPJ that the Pirveli Arkhi appealed to local law enforcement to investigate the attacks on its employees, saying, “It is concerning that this is not the first incident of aggression against our correspondents, and we hope that this kind of issues are investigated timely. When journalists are doing their jobs, it is essential that they can do so in a safe environment.” In September 2020, unidentified attackers beat up at least five journalists, including cameraman Zaza Baramidze, in the city of Marneuli, as documented in a separate alert.

CPJ emailed the Ministry of the Interior and the Dmanisi city hall for comment but did not receive any responses,” reads the article.