DRI condemns violence against journalists in Marneuli and calls for objectively investigation

The Democracy Research Institute condemns the physical abuse of journalists and cameramen that took place in Marneuli on September 29, as a result of which, their health and equipment were damaged. DRI reminds the authorities of its responsibility to ensure a violence-free pre-election environment and free expression of politically unacceptable critical views.

The attack on journalists was reportedly preceded by violence against a representative of the United National Movement in the district commission. The physical conflict started after election of members of the district commission caused disagreement. The attackers damaged the car belonging to Lasha Kveladze, a member of the United National Movement and physically assaulted three people accompanying him.

Journalists of the Mtavari Arkhi (Main Channel) and the Public Broadcaster, who were trying to cover the incident outside the Georgian Dream office, were assaulted by about ten people. The attackers physically assaulted the cameramen as well and damaged their equipment. The Democracy Research Institute assumes that the violence against journalists was aimed at preventing the coverage of events of high public interest, such as elections, preparations for the elections and persecution of civil activists.

Giorgi Mumladze, a representative of the monitoring organization, also became a victim of physical abuse. According to the victim, he was physically assaulted personally by the Chairman of the City Council. The inaction of law enforcement officers contributed to the subsequent episodes of violence.

The Democracy Research Institute calls on:

Law enforcement agencies - to investigate the cases of violence against journalists, civil activists and members of the opposition parties objectively and thoroughly, within the shortest time possible.

Senior government officials – to publicly and unequivocally condemn the cases of politically motivatd violence and obstruction of journalistic activities.