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Georgian activist beaten up hours after Speaker accuses him of ‘terrorising’ MPs

11 June 2024
Activist Zuka Berdzenishvili following the attack outside his home. Image via Salome Nikolaishvili.

A Georgian activist has been beaten up in the streets of Tbilisi, less than an hour after the Speaker of Parliament publicly condemned him for criticising MPs in what the Speaker claimed was a ‘campaign of terror’.

On Tuesday Zuka Berdzenishvili, an activist from the liberal Shame Movement, was attacked and subsequently hospitalised near his home.

‘They met me near the house, they hit me from behind, beat me, and ran’, Berdzenishvili wrote in a post on Facebook. He added that he required treatment for a broken nose.

Berdzenishvili previously wrote that he had avoided an ambush in his home village that he attributed to his criticism of the foreign agent law.

Berdzenishvili is the latest victim in a coordinated campaign of violence and intimidation targetting critics of the government.

The attack came around an hour after parliamentary speaker Shalva Papuashvili posted on Facebook accusing him and another activist, Salome Nikolaishvili, of calling ‘threats and insults’ at MPs.

A number of ruling party MPs have faced public taunts and backlash over their support of the foreign agent law.


Papuashvili’s post concerned what he called an ‘organised and politically-motivated campaign of terror’ against the ruling party ‘in the name of Europe’. 

He was directly responding to an incident on Sunday in which a woman was arrested at Tbilisi and her companion denied boarding after she engaged in a heated argument with Georgian Dream MP Viktor Japaridze.

Tsitsikashvili, an the editor at fact-checking platform Fact-Meter, has been charged with petty hooliganism.

In his post on Tuesday, Papuashvili also wrote the names of several other activists whom he accused of participating in a ‘terror campaign’.

The Interior Ministry told RFE/RL they had opened an investigation into the attack on Berdzenishvili.

However, previous attacks on government critics, including where the attackers have been publicly identified, have not led to a single arrest.

[Read more: Beatings, harassment, and no arrests: Georgian Government critics under attack]

The campaign of violence and harassment against government critics, which began after massive protests broke out against the foreign agent law, has continued unabated since the law’s passage.

In addition to the physical attacks, politicians, activists, non-governmental organisations, and media organisations have faced vandalism and threats on the walls of their houses and offices.

Right now, online media in Georgia is in dire need of safety equipment, legal support, and technology as we cover increasingly challenging circumstances. Support small, independent media outlets in Georgia via our collective fundraiser.

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