TV Crew Attacked in Tbilisi Café
Government-critical Formula TV crew – a journalist, her cameraman and cameraman’s assistant — came under verbal and physical attack while conducting an interview in a café in Tbilisi’s Vake neighborhood.
Formula TV reported late on March 17 that the assailant has already been detained.
Journalist Nano Chakvetadze said she and her camera crew were at the café to interview a Russian citizen who arrived in Georgia after the war began in Ukraine.
According to Chakvetadze, a visitor of the café became agitated after finding out the TV crew was from the government-critical Formula channel, and demanded they left, as they were “causing discomfort.”
The journalist said that after they rejected the demand, the assailant insulted and physically attacked her as well as the cameramen.
Following the incident, the alleged assailant who self-identified as Davit Velijanashvili, told a second Formula TV crew which arrived at the scene, that he had insulted Chakvetadze’s crew for not taking him into consideration and violating his “personal idyll.”
“I asked them not to discuss the issue in front of me, this is not a public space… I told them I was not interested in their politics; they did not leave, and then I told them to sit somewhere else…” the man claimed.
“I will pay the fine, they can arrest me,” said the unremorseful alleged assailant, boasting with the name of his father, Goderdzi Velijanashvili. Velijanashvili, former MP, currently works for one of Judo clubs.
Subsequent footage shows the alleged attacker becoming agitated with the second Formula TV crew as well, pushing the interviewing journalist and being held back by two other persons from seemingly launching a physical attack.
Following the developments, the Special Investigation Service, one of successors of recently dissolved State Inspector’s Service, announced about leading a probe under Article 154 of Georgia’s Criminal Code, involving unlawful interference in journalistic activities.
The Coalition for Media Advocacy, a group of press freedom watchdogs in Georgia, asserted that the aggression is encouraged by the authorities’ consistent failure to properly react to attacks against journalists.
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