|MARCH 5, 2004|
Posted: March 5, 2004
Vakhtang Komakhidze, Rustavi-2
Komakhidze, a reporter for the well-respected "60 Minutes" investigative journalism program on independent television station Rustavi-2, was brutally attacked in the autonomous republic of Ajaria in southern Georgia.
According to Akaki Gogichaishvili, the host of "60 Minutes," Komakhidze had spent the last two weeks reporting in Ajaria and was working on an exposé about allegations of corruption by Ajaria's regional leader, Aslan Abashidze, and his family.
As Komakhidze was driving out of the Ajarian city of Batumi, transit police stopped him at a check point, said local reports. Several unidentified men in black uniforms forced Komakhidze out of his car and began to beat him. The men also took the journalist's video camera, tapes, and various documents. He was hospitalized in Batumi with serious injuries.
Gogichaishvili and his Rustavi-2 colleagues believe that the men were with an Ajarian special task unit.
Komakhidze was traveling with a local Batumi newspaper journalist, Mzia Amaghloberli, who was not harmed. Both she and Komakhidze said the transit police did nothing to prevent the beating, said the Moscow-based Russian private television channel, NTV.
APRIL 30, 2004
Posted: May 4, 2004
Alexi Tvaradze, Rustavi-2
Eteri Turadze, Batumelebi
Lela Dumbadze, Batumelebi
Natia Zoidze, Inter Press
According to Tvaradze, a cameraman with the independent television station Rustavi-2, several police officers beat him with clubs and confiscated a tape containing his footage of an opposition demonstration in the city of Batumi, in the autonomous republic of Ajaria in southern Georgia. One of the officers tried to take his camera, "but I didnít let him," Tvaradze told CPJ. Tvaradze was not seriously injured during the incident and is back on the job.
Ajarian police also beat Turadze and Dumbadze, editor and reporter, respectively, with the Ajarian weekly Batumelebi; and Zoidze, a special correspondent with the news agency Inter Press, according to Internews, an international nongovernmental media organization. CPJ could not confirm the extent of these journalistsí injuries.
Local Georgian media reported that several hundred demonstrators participated in the rally in downtown Batumi, which was organized by the opposition movement Our Ajaria. The participants demanded the release of political prisoners held in Ajarian prisons on the orders of Ajariaís regional leader, Aslan Abashidze.
In early March, Ajarian special forces attacked Vakhstang Komakhidze, a reporter with Rustavi-2ís investigative news program "60 Minutes," at a checkpoint on his way out of Batumi after he had reported for two weeks on allegations of corruption by Abashidze and his family.