Zurab Makharadze (center with a microphone) and Archpriest Spiridon (left, with a wooden cross) at the rally in front of parliament. (Megatv.ge)

The ombudsman calls for the prosecution of an ultra-nationalist journalist and an archpriest of the Georgian Orthodox Church for organizing violence against journalists and LGBTQ rights activists.

Ombudsman Nino Lomjaria said 53 people have been identified as victims of the July 5 gang violence and 27 people have been prosecuted. However, no-one has been prosecuted for organizing the violence.

“Two months have passed since the violent events of July 5, but the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has not launched a criminal prosecution against any person on charges of organizing group violence. The Public Defender has studied the videos disseminated by the media and believes that the publicly available evidence reaches the standard of […] to initiate criminal proceedings against two persons for organizing and also for publicly inciting violent acts,” says the statement issued by Nino Lomjaria, the ombudsman of Georgia.

Zurab Makharadze is a blogger and journalist at Alt-Info, an ultranationalist group which organized the anti-LGTBT rally on July 5. He is notorious for his anti-liberal, anti-Western, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Vax statements. Archpriest Spiridon Tskipurishvili is relatively little known to the public. He was one of dozens of clergy who actively participated in July “pogroms”. He was summoned to the police for questioning on July 16, but no charges have been filed against him since. Zurab Makharadze and his colleagues from Alt-Info were also summoned for questioning, but soon released. 

“The proposal to start the persecution was based on publicly released video materials, which confirm that before the violent events on July 5, Zurab Makharadze and other persons were continuously announcing violence against persons participating in the Tbilisi Pride event […] and journalists” the statement reads.

The ombudsman’s proposal substantiates that on July 5, Zurab Makharadze directly led the group violence, including attacks in front of parliament, as well as a break-in at the offices of Tbilisi Pride and the youth activist group “Shame”.

Despite the ongoing investigation into the July 5 violence, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said on September 3 that all perpetrators have been arrested and punished.

Archpriest Spiridon and his attorney during questioning at the police. (Pia.ge)