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Gharibashvili doubles down with homophobia and conspiracy theories

12 July 2021
Irakli Gharibashvili. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

In a briefing on Monday morning, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili blamed the mob violence surrounding Tbilisi Pride, which appears to have led to the death of one journalist, on the opposition UNM party and ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

‘First of all, what kind of a name is “parade”? I know only one parade and it is the parade of our army.’ Gharibashvili said during the briefing, apparently misidentifying the name of the ‘March of Dignity’.

‘When 95% of the population are against conducting a propagandist parade, we should obey this’, he added. 

He also claimed, without evidence, that the violence of recent days was an unsuccessful conspiracy against the state planned and carried out by ‘anti-state anti-church forces’.

Saying he expressed ‘deep sorrow’ over the death of TV Pirveli camera operator, Aleksandre Lashkarava, he accused ‘certain political forces’ of attempting to use his death to ‘achieve political goals’

‘What can be more immoral than this, when you are trying to achieve your political goals with the tragedy of a deceased person?’, he said. 

Gharibashvili’s statements follow mounting calls for his resignation over the death of Aleksandre Lashkarava. Lashkarava sustained fractured face bones and a concussion when he was attacked during 5 July’s homophobic riots in Tbilisi. He was found dead in his home on Sunday morning.

The Prime Minister also discussed the state of the ongoing police investigation into the death. 

‘The investigation is working on several theories, including the theory of how those aggressive people appeared there and why they deliberately attacked journalists and camera operators.’ 

‘There is a theory that possibly the revanchist radical power may be standing behind these provocateurs', he said. 

[Read more: Journalists recall day of terror in Tbilisi]

He also accused the television channels Mtavari, TV Pirveli and Formula, of all being ‘directly managed’ by Saakashvili. ‘Their only goal is to overthrow the government and come to power by force’, he said. 

Adding to the conspiratorial claims, Gharibashvili also said that the Shame Movement, a liberal anti-government group, was also managed by ‘Saakashvili’s organisations’ and that he had questions about wether Saakashvili and ‘his radical group’ were controlling the queer community as well. 

‘The organiser and supporter of this event [the March of Dignity] was the Shame Movement, which is completely managed by Saakashvili’s organisations. This is confirmed fact, my friends’, he said.

The Prime Minister closed his speech by appointing two new Vice Prime Ministers, including Tea Tsulukiani, a staunch conservative.

Following her appointment, Tsulukiani echoed the Prime Minister’s sentiments. 

‘In my opinion, aggression towards the majority, who think that the “parade” shouldn’t be held on Rustaveli [Avenue], should stop. We should learn to respect each other’, she said.

[Read from OC Media: Editorial | A state-sanctioned attack on Georgia's free press]

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