Recent developments that occurred on July 5 (where up to 50 media representatives were injured) revealed that media staff employed in critical media (journalists, camera-persons, managers, etc.) are NOT safe. The existence of an unhealthy media environment and pressure on critical media was already evident, although pressure on media in a such systemic way (which is very common for Russian standards) has recently emerged in alarming forms.
There is the impression that the media faces a well-planned operation meant for the destruction of critical media in a systemic manner, where journalists have become the targets of not only verbal violence, threats, and blackmail, but also of physical aggression. All these further damages the already fragile media environment, which has become unsafe for people working in the media and for life as we know it.
Meanwhile, the government, which is obliged to enforce the law and protect its citizens, by its own actions or omissions, has turned a blind eye to various crimes and thus, directly or indirectly, encourages violence against journalists and camera-persons employed in the critical media. Such systematic pressure on the critical media harms democracy and, ultimately, the interests of the country.
On July 5, while covering protests in Georgia, about 50 media representatives were injured and their media property was damaged. After these events, the severely beaten cameraman Lekso Lashkarava died. Media and Communication Education and Research Center (MCERC) extends its condolences to the family, the TV Pirveli team, the Georgian media, and the public.