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Journalist Shalva Ramishvili and Member of Free Georgia Detained in President’s Vineyard

26.09.2011

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

On September 25, journalist Shalva Ramishvili was detained in the vineyard of the President Mikheil Saakashvili in Kvareli. The journalist visited the vineyard to prepare reportage about it.

“Misha’s vineyard and country estate do not have gate. Nobody blocked my way… Nobody asked me where I was going. Everybody was running to and fro. Police officers were hiding in the vineyard. I was asking them whose house it was but nobody answered me. They were smiling modestly. Then the head of Kvareli police office appeared, who grabbed me and tried to remove me out of the estate; though he was wearing civil clothes. I asked him to introduce himself but he did not reply to me. Anyway, I obeyed his demands and left the area. I stood outside the yard for a short time. Soon, stout men (in civil clothes) attacked me, pushed me into the car, seized my equipment and drove me away. My freedom was restricted during 15 minutes. Finally, they realized their mistake, stopped car, I got off it and they ran away. Part of equipment was returned two hours later. Chip and microphones are still with them,” said Shalva Ramishvili.

Head of Kakheti office of the Free Georgia Giorgi Mosiashvili and several others were together with Shalva Ramishvili. Mosiashvili was guiding the journalist in the region.

Giorgi Mosiashvili: Chief police officer of Kvareli district Temur Gurashvili approached us in the vineyard and asked to leave the area. Shalva asked him to introduce himself and to clarify the motive of his demands; but he did not reply to the journalist. Several minutes later, strangers came up, seized all our documents (IDs and driving licenses) and cameras without any explanations. They pushed Shalva into their car and us into another car and drove us towards the central motorway. They brought us at the auto-service station which does not work. The strangers appointed several security guards in civil clothes who did not allow us to move about.”

-Did they physically assault you?

-They threatened us – we will kill you. As for violence, they pushed and elbowed us.

-Who else from government officials were in the vineyard besides the chief police officer of Kvareli district?

-I recognized only Gurashvili from local officials; the others mostly were from Tbilisi - state security officers.

-How and when were you released? Do you have any injuries? Did they return your possessions?

-About 90 minutes later they allowed us to go. We do not have any injuries. They returned only part of our equipment; I mean, they returned cameras without cassettes. They returned my photo-camera but without chip. Afterwards, we again entered Saakashvili’s yard. Shalva made several video-recordings there, which will be released on Maestro-TV on Wednesday.

-Who let you into the vineyard next time? Did you take permission from anybody? Did the President arrive in Kvareli?

-As I have already told you, the vineyard does not have a gate. Nobody banned us to enter there in the first occasion either. So, we entered there without any problem. The chief police officer and others approached us 5-10 minutes later and made us leave the area. The president arrived there 5 minutes after our detention; two helicopters landed there. Next time, nobody gave permission to us. We video-recorded the area from the outside. Before leaving Kvareli we visited the police station and asked them to return our equipment but the police officer on duty told us they would clear up the situation.

On September 26, Shota Utiashvili, head of analytic department of the MIA, said that criminal case was not launched against journalist Shalva Ramishvili from the Maestro TV.

“No, who told you that?! No prosecution has been launched against Ramishvili at all,” said Shota Utiashvili.

On the day of incident the ICK reported that criminal case was launched on the incident in President’s vineyard. The local police office did not comment on the fact; though they said the investigation started under Article 160, Part III of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

The mentioned article envisages liability for Encroachment upon inviolability of house or other possession. Illegal  intrusion  into, search or any other action the house or other possession against the will  of the owner that encroaches upon the inviolability of the house or other possession, shall be punishable by fine or by corrective labour  up to two years in length or by imprisonment similar in length, by deprivation of the right to occupy a position or pursue a particular activity for up to three years in length.

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