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Salome Samadashvili is a Georgian MP, vice-chairman of the Lelo – Georgia Partnership Group and former head of the Georgian Mission to the European Union.

Earlier this week, 36-year-old journalist and cameraman Lekso Lashkarava was sent on his final trip to the loud applause and tearful eyes of family, colleagues, friends and hundreds of Georgian citizens.

He was one of 53 media representatives – journalists, cameramen and photographers – who were attacked by violent mobs from ultra-conservative groups with close ties to Russia during an anti-pride event the week before. Lekso protected his colleague from the mob and was brutally beaten and his bones broke.

The mob’s goal was to thwart an LGBTQ + pride event in Tbilisi on July 5th. It has been possible. Pride did not take place that day. Instead, it turned into a day of shame as mobs chased journalists and activists on the streets and burned the European flag.

The July 5th events represent a gross failure of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party. Deliberate or not, the police force mobilized to defend the pride participants has been far from adequate. And instead of ensuring the safety of citizens, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and other DG officials accused political opponents of conspiracy with LGBTQ + activists, declaring the political opposition an “anti-Georgian” and “anti-Christian” force.

Based on the playbook of illiberal regimes and mirroring Russian propaganda methods by connecting opponents with marginalized groups and stirring up hatred, the ruling party indirectly supported this violence. In recent years the party has also created a nurturing environment for similar groups and their leaders who have organized violence.

Outraged by recent events, many Georgians have taken to the streets again to defend their European future. They demand the resignation of Garibashvili and his government. She was shocked by the violence against the media. Many believe the government tolerated creating an atmosphere of fear in the run-up to the local elections in October.

The ongoing political crisis in Georgia after the last parliamentary elections in October 2020 ended with the political agreement brokered by EU Council President Charles Michel. At least that is what it looked like when I left the United National Movement, the largest opposition party in Georgia, which had refused to sign the document.

Since then, I have joined the rest of the political opposition that trusted the EU-negotiated agreement and signed the document now known as the “Michel Document” on April 19 in Parliament to engage in politically motivated prosecutions end and show a way to possible early elections next year.

However, their credibility is being tested again and again as the DG appears to be failing to deliver on these promises: despite numerous warnings, the government has continued to appoint judges, undermining the independence of the judiciary. Two political prisoners have been released, but several politicians and media representatives are still on trial. The election changes were modest and not supported by the opposition.

If the results of the upcoming state elections in October of the governing party GD result in less than 43 percent of the proportional votes cast, it must, according to the agreement, call early elections in 2022 – if it releases it from this obligation to hold early elections.

The failure of the European-mediated deal would also do Moscow good. It would expose the EU’s weakness as a foreign policy actor and a major player in the region that Russia sees as its backyard. Appealing to the conservative values ​​of Georgians as part of anti-Western propaganda has long been Russia’s hybrid warfare strategy in our country. Last week, Russian media applauded the burning of the European flag in Georgia, and Kremlin chief ideologist Alexander Dugin said the country was finally on the right track.

When Michel started his trip to Moldova and Georgia in March, it was in part a diplomatic response to the treatment of High Representative Josep Borrell in Moscow. And brokering political unification in Georgia was an important goal of this visit. That is why Russia wants it to fail.

Michel is attending an international conference of the Georgian government in Batumi this week. He would do well to ask the Prime Minister, whose resignation is the central demand of the demonstrators in Tbilisi, some difficult questions. He should also firmly and unequivocally call for the implementation of the April 19 agreement and remind the Prime Minister that EU aid is not unconditional.

The historic role that the EU has played in addressing the political crisis in our country has been widely welcomed in Georgia, where the majority of citizens are decidedly pro-European. And many would perceive a failure of the agreement as a failure of Europe. As the guardian of the document named after him, the President of the European Council must assure Georgians that they will not be disappointed.