03:19, Monday, 25.01.2021
ქართული English

Web Portal on Human Rights in Georgia

Advanced Search

Who Is Behind the Disappearance of Journalist Naira Saparashvili and What Motive Could They Have?

Who Is Behind the Disappearance of Journalist Naira Saparashvili and What Motive Could They Have?


Last week the family of Naira Saparashvili, the editor of the ‘Epoka’ newspaper - the first independent newspaper in the Kakheti region - informed the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center about her disappearance. The family had applied to the police, but for a number of reasons, including police aggression, they withdrew their appeal to those who are supposed to be responsible for ‘enforcing the law’. The family is now sure that Naira has been killed.

In 1992, Naira Saparashvili established the first independent regional newspaper - ‘Epoka’. This newspaper, where Naira worked as an editor, used to publish critical articles. The staff there remembers receiving threatening phone calls and the creation of artificial obstacles to harass the newspaper’s work.

“Naira left for Tbilisi and we had to prepare some of the newspaper’s issues by ourselves, though, she was still instructing us over the phone. She did not say anything about the reasons why she left. It should be mentioned that in the last issue there was a critical article about the situation in the region. The local government, the authorities and the police who are all involved in mafia activities, responded harshly to the article. The newspaper was shut down”, state the staff of the ‘Epoka’ newspaper, who hesitate to name themselves because of the dangers they might face.

According to a letter from Tamila Sapashvili, Naira Sapashvili’s sister, to the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center, the journalist disappeared in November 2000. Naira did not say why she left Gurjaani, even to her family.

Naira worked part-time with the ‘Republic of Georgia’ newspaper in Tbilisi. At the same time she owned the advertising company ‘Epoka’, which worked for organizations seeking promotion and PR services. At the end of September 2000, Naira leased her flat on 7/2 Leonidze Street to Maia Margvelasvhili, for 3000 dollars. “She leased her flat for a year because she needed some money. Additionally, she planed to renew the ‘Epoka’ newspaper and start a new business. She rented a cheap flat on Sulkhan Saba Orbeliani Street. Naira did not tell us what she did with the money”, says Tamila Saparashvili, who last saw her sister on November 1st 2000. “She arrived in the village for her sister-in-law’s birthday. She was very sad. I asked her the reason but at first she would not reply. Because I insisted on her giving me an answer, she said that she was going to Belgium with Zura Bitskinashvili and that she was sorry for leaving us. She did not say more. Personally, she was rather secretive”, said the sister. 

Naira was expected in Makharadze on November 23rd, to celebrate ‘Giorgoba’ (St.George’s Day) with her family, but she never arrived. On November 26th, her cousin Nana Makharadze unsuccessfully attempted to visit her in the flat that she was renting. Naira’s friends thought she had left Tbilisi to go to the village. Her family back in the village believed she was still in the city.
Naira did not appear at the birthday party of her niece, Nino, on December 6th either. This was unusual for her because she always attended the party. This exception made the family worry. Her brother, Giorgi Saparashvili and cousin Zaal Khutsishvili arrived in Tbilisi in order to find her. The flat was locked and they entered the building through the roof. However, there was no sign of Naira. They kept on searching for her. Gela Khamkhadze recalls that they checked all the hospitals in Tbilisi, all the morgues and the lists of those people who went abroad around that time. However, Naira was not among them. Neither friends nor relatives had any information about her disappearance. We asked her old friend Zurab Bitskinashvili, nicknamed ‘Ikhvia’ who lives in the village of Shashiani with his family, because Zura and Naira had planed to go to Belgium together. Ikhvia’s wife told us that Zura was away driving his lorry. She could not contact him to find out if he knew anything about Naira’s disappearance.  

The family waited for Zura, who returned from his trip two weeks later. He said that he last saw Naira on November 25th, when he brought her some red wine from the village and then went away for his trip. “Zura’s wife told us that Naira called her and asked her to telephone her as often as possible, however, we doubted this because we had checked the list of the telephone calls and found only two calls to someone in Belgium”, stated Giorgi Saparashvili.

In December 2000, Naira’s sister, Tamila Saparashvili, applied to the Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi Police Department, informing them about Naira’s disappearance. Due to the aggressive and cynical attitude of police officers and also in the hope that Naira may still appear by herself, Tamila took back her application from the police department. The family could not get back the flat on 7/2 Leonidze Street, which Naira had leased, because the people renting it registered it as their possession though a court decision as soon as Naira vanished. “All this time we hoped that Naira was abroad. Though it is very painful for us, we are sure that she has been killed, but we do not know who committed this crime or why”, says Tamila Saparashvili.

One version of events links the disappearance of the journalist with Gocha Nazgaidze, a former police official, who was arrested last year by the Kakheti District Prosecutor’s Office for creating a gang responsible for committing various crimes. According to a source of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center, information that Nazgaidze was responsible for Naira’s ‘disappearance’, was mentioned before Gocha Nazgaidze’s arrest. The source also mentioned that the Criminal Police official and the journalist had close relations and that Naira knew a lot about him.

We tried to contact the Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi Police Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tbilisi, however, all our attempts to do so were unsuccessful. Several times we were told that the Head of the Department, Tamaz Vasadze and his Deputy Aleksandre Guliashvili, were not available and could not talk to journalists.

Ucha Nanuashvili, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Information and Documentation Center sent applications to the Prosecutor-General’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a week ago about disappearance of the journalist. So far, there has not been any response from either of them.

Gela Mtivlishvili from Kakheti

Print Send to Friend Send to Facebook Tweet This
Leave your comment
Your name:
Your comment:

Security code: Code
Have you lost your job because of the spread of the COVID-19?
yes No


They wait for me in Abkhazia
Last time, I visited Abkhazia five years ago. Since then, not a day goes by without thinking about it, without missing the Abkhazian
Another proposal on agreement
Women – victims of violence


Forgotten by government veterans
Every year, fewer and fewer veterans of the World War II meet the Victory Day. The society receives information about them only on
Villages of the Hopeless
What happened to Dream of Justice Revival?


Copyright © 2004 - 2021 HRIDC