Formula TV Crew Assaulted by Bystander

A Formula TV Crew, including journalist Rati Tsverava, was verbally assaulted and threatened by a bystander with a knife whilst filming a live broadcast in a park on 24 August.

The incident occurred on Delisi street, Saburtalo neighborhood in Tbilisi when according to Tsverava the crew was approached by a shirtless man with a backpack who tried to speak with them.

Tsverava explained that as they were filming, he asked the man to give them time to finish the broadcast before speaking with them but with a knife in his hand, the man “threatened to kill us, then as you saw, he took my microphone and tried to attack my cameraman.”

With the microphone in his hand, the man addressed the broadcast and yelled, “I am the only thief-in-law [criminal gang leader] out here. [I], Badri, challenge you. Come, let’s meet, whenever you want, wherever you want.”

He then promptly drops the microphone and per Tsverava, runs away. Tsverava called the police after the man left.

Special Investigation Service Responds

The Special Investigation Service (SIS), which investigates crimes against journalists, launched an investigation into the incident on the same day under Article 154 (2) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, referring to unlawful interference with a journalist’s professional activities committed using the threat of violence. The crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years and with or without the deprivation of the right to hold office or carry out particular activities for up to three years.

The SIS emphasized that they will conduct all necessary investigative and procedural actions to identify and arrest the accused person.

The SIS announced on 25 August that they have detained an individual in connection with the incident.

There have been numerous attacks against members of the media in Georgia this year, with concerns growing over press freedoms in the country which have significantly declined since the homophobic pogroms of July 5, 2021, per Reporter Without Borders, a Paris-based watchdog. In July last year, over 50 media workers covering counterdemonstrations to LGBT Tbilisi Pride were brutally assaulted by far-right mobs.

On June 9, the European Parliament also passed a resolution on “violations of media freedom and safety of journalists in Georgia” which slammed the Georgian Dream authorities over their handling of press freedoms and dealt a severe blow to the country’s now dashed, hopes for EU candidacy status.

Note: The article was updated on 25 August at 15:07 to reflect the SIS’ announcement that an individual has been detained in connection with the incident.

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