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Four Georgian TV Stations Suspend Broadcasting, Demand PM's Resignation


Journalists Honor Georgian Cameraman Who Died After Mob Attack
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TBILISI -- Four private television stations in Georgia have suspended broadcasting for 24 hours and are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili over recent attacks against LGBT activists and journalists.

Mtavari, TV Pirveli, Formula, and Kavkasia television channels suspended operations on July 14, saying they were also demanding that all responsible for the attacks last week be punished.

"Gharibashvili must resign. All those who attacked journalists on July 5 must be prosecuted," they said in identical statements on their Facebook pages.

The move comes a day after regional television channels suspended their broadcasting for 10 minutes during the funeral of Pirveli television cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, who died several days after he was severely beaten on July 5 by an anti-LGBT mob that had taken to the streets of the capital to block a planned LGBT parade. Georgia's Interior Ministry said it is investigating Lashkarava's death but has not yet determined a cause.

A total of 55 people -- 53 of them journalists -- were injured during the attack.

Lashkarava's death has highlighted the sometimes violent animosity toward sexual minorities in the strongly conservative Caucasus nation, and sparked mass protests attended by thousands of people calling for the resignation of Gharibashvili and his government.

Georgia's Interior Ministry said it was investigating Lashkarava's death but had not determined a cause.

Many have squarely blamed Gharibashvili, who the morning of the scheduled parade said it was inappropriate to hold the event because it would create a confrontation and was "unacceptable to a large segment of Georgian society."

The Georgian Orthodox Church had also called on its supporters to gather against the Pride march.

Diplomatic missions from 18 countries and the European Union have condemned the violence and called on the Georgian government to protect people's constitutional right to peacefully gather.

With reporting by Reuters

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