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Journalists Are Frequently Insulted In Kakheti Region

10.10.2006
samxaradz.gifStatement

The Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre expresses concern about the recent verbal and physical assaults of journalists. We believe these violations of journalists’ rights through threats and preventing them from carrying out their professional activities are brought about by the Kakheti government’s disregard of such violations, which further promotes the impunity of offenders. 

As a regional correspondent for the newspapers ‘Spektri’ (The Specter) and ’24 Saati’ (24 Hours), Zviad Ruadze published an article in January entitled, “Sighnaghi’s Main Gynecologist and Clinic Become Embroiled in Scandal.”  Subsequently, he was insulted and threatened to kill him. Nobody has been punished for pressure on the journalist; however Mr. Zviad Ruadze has applied to law enforcers.

In February, 2006 Mr. Enri Kobakhidze, director of the Telavi TV Company ‘Tanamgzavri’ was detained for hooliganism. The fact followed the financial police raid within the TV Company, what hindered the information service from working. Ms. Natela Jashiashvili, judge at the Telavi District Court bailed Enri Kobakhidze for 15 GEL. Employees at TV Company ‘Tanamgzavri’ connect the facts of oppression on their company with Mr. Gocha Mamatsashvili, Temporary Governor of Telavi District, who does not answer journalists’ questions.

On February 7, 2006 a criminal case was launched under Georgian Criminal Code Article 239, II-(a, b), against journalists Mr. Gela Mtivlishvili and Mr. Roman Kevkhishvili at the Interior Ministry’s Telavi Department. According to Kakheti Regional Prosecutor’s Office preliminary investigation was launched on the basis of the Telavi District Administration Board’s letter stating that on January 31, 2006 the aforementioned journalists insulted the representatives of the Local Government and behaved like hooligans. In fact the journalists, having arrived at the Administrative Board were physically insulted by Telavi District Deputy Governor, Mr. Gia Papunashvili and Mr. Nodar Faradashvili, the Chief of Organization Department within Administration Board. Mr. Papunashvili threw a char at Mr. Gela Mtivlishvili and Roman Kevkhishvili was pushed down the stairs by Mr. Nodar Faradashvili.

On March 6,  2006  Gela Mtivlishvili, journalist for the ‘Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre’ Kakheti office applied to Gurjaani District Prosecutor and Interior Ministry Gurjaani Department, however nobody showed any kind interest in the facts of his being threatened by possible liquidation, which he mentioned in the apply. That time head of the Gurjaani Police Department, Archil Bozhadze insulted Gela Mtivlishvili, when he arrived at the police station requesting the subsequent respond form them. The threats followed an attack at Mr. Mtivlishvili, which resulted into the journalist’s brain concussion. Besides that bombs were exploded in his yard twice. All these cases are not investigated at all.

Tamar Makharashvili, correspondent for Kakheti Regional newspaper ‘Imedi’ applied to Interior Ministry Kakheti Regional Department. She points out in her apply that Boris Mamisashvili, Chairman of the “Union against Economical Crime, Smuggling and Corruption’ has blackmailed her several times and prevents from professional activity. Ms. Makharashvili has applied to the police department before, regarding the oppression experienced on her but in vain. Soon Ms. Tamar Makharashvili was prevented by Mr. Akaki Sikharulidze, temporary Governor of the Gurjaani District and by Paata Jachvliani, operator for Social Channel. They forbade her to enter the building of the Administration board; otherwise the operator threatened her by physical assault. The fact was not investigated either.

On June 15, 2006 members of the Ruling Party’s Local Organization, Ioseb Nanobashvili, Jemal Demetrashvili, Vasil Munjishvili and the teachers from Public School in the village of Vakiri dispersed the theatrical demonstration organized by the representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations in the area of the Councilor’s office in the village of Anaga, Sighnaghi District. They were severely insulted and physically assaulted; their microphones, photo and video cameras, Dictaphones were broken, the video tapes were seized from them. The journalists-Roman Kevkhishvili, Zviad Ruadze and Gela Jaliashvili were injured.  Though the victims called for help, the officials from the Police District Department and the Interior Ministry Kakheti Regional Department arrived at the scene when the dispersers had realized their intentions. Those policemen who witnessed the fact on the place did not do anything; moreover they took part in assaulting the journalists.  The investigation neglected the appeals and mediations of the victims; besides that Khvicha Kikilashvili, judge at the Sighnaghi District Court released the detainees Mr. Ioseb Nanobashvili and Vasiko Munjishvili from the court hall after they paid the bail. As for Jemal Demetrashvili, he was bailed at the very beginning by the judge.

The incident was commented by Ms. Nino Burjanadze, Speaker of the Parliament and she demanded severe punishment for the offenders.

On July 8, 2006 Gia Lomidze, Deputy Head of the Lagodekhi District Police Department, planted a ‘Makarovi’ live bullet in the bag of Ms. Marina Gogoladze, correspondent for the newspaper ‘Imedi’, whilst she was interviewing the witnesses in the yard of the District Court. The journalist appealed to the Lagodekhi District Police Department. A criminal case was launched on the fact, which initially was demanded by the Gurjaani District Prosecutor and then by the Kakheti Regional Prosecutor’s Office. Ms. Marina Gogoladze is not marked as a victim in the case. The policeman Gia Lomidze and others try to drawl the case. They threaten her by killing, unless Ms. Gogoladze withdraws an appeal from the police. The journalist has informed the Prosecutor’s Office about the fact, but there was no respond on the case.

Ms. Maia Mamulashvili, Editor of the newspaper ‘Kakhetis Khma’ was injured during a demonstration held in front of the JSC ‘Kakheti Power Distribution’ Gurjaani Service-Centre. She was insulted by a policeman Davit Chumburidze, brother of the Center’s Manager, Khatuna Chumburidze and broke her camera. Ms. Maia Mamulashvili appealed to the police station but in vain.

In September Sagarejo District Temporary Governor, Garsevan Bukhnikashvili insulted Mishiko Lalzashvili, correspondent for the newspaper ‘Progress” and sacked him from the Administrative Board meeting.

Prior to the local governmental elections, Nana Kibishauri, press secretary for the ‘National Movement’ Kakheti Branch and the editor of the Kakheti based newspaper ‘Chveni Gazeti’ insulted correspondent for the radio ‘Hereti’, Roman Kevkhishvili. The later sued her at the police department, however his appeal was not paid attention at all.

On October 9, 2006 at 12:00 former MP Davit Kapandze insulted and physically assaulted Ramaz Samkharadze, director of the Radio ‘Hereti’. Thus former MP Kapanadze protested the topic broadcast on the radio about his past activities. Before that, National Movement representative, Gia Korganashvili’s threatened Ramaz Samkharadze, director of Radio ‘Hereti’ to hold ‘a trial on him in his own way’. According to the information at the radio, Samkharadze was threatened by kidnapping too.

The aforementioned facts cover pressure on independent journalists in Kakheti region.

‘Human Rights Information and Documentation centre’ concerns about the number of the facts and calls the Government, corresponding Law Enforcement Bodies, Human Rights Defenders, Non-Governmental Organizations and Media for urgent action regarding the facts.

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