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Journalists assaulted in Akhmeta

By Anna Robakidze
Friday, August 24
Journalist of GNS Studio, Vasil Dabrundashvili and cameraman Bachana Buliskeria, were physically assaulted in Akhmeta while trying to carry out their professional activities, on August 22nd.

The journalist and his cameramen arrived in Akhmeta in order to report on an illegal timber recycling factory, which possibly exists in the home of local resident Osiko Chichiashvili.

According to Dabrundashvili, he had been informed about a number of illegal timber recycling factories functioning in the region; therefore they came to the region to visit one of the factories and to get in touch with the person responsible. “We were met by Nodar and Osiko Chichiashvili (respectively father and son), who physically attacked us and smashed our camera…We managed to escape and also save the recorded material.”

The victims managed to contact police. However, despite their complaint, there were no active steps taken by the officers: neither Nodar nor Osiko Chichiashvili was arrested.

The GMS journalists were not the only ones assaulted by the Chichiashvili’s. They have physically and verbally abused journalists representing INFO 9 too, who were trying to report on the incident at an earlier date.

As Osiko Chichiashvili stated, the journalists had illegally entered private property, therefore they were “asked” to leave.

According to the Kakheti Information Centre, Nodar and Osiko Chichaishvili are suspected of illegally cutting timber and also being supported by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Gia Lortkipanidze and his brother, Head of the Kakheti Division of Constitutional Safety, David Lotkipanidze.

The head of GNS studio, Nana Lejava, informed InterPressNews that it is clearly visible on the GNS video material that the journalists never tried to illegally enter the property. “They did not even enter the front yard” Lejava says.

After the incident, the journalists were taken to Akhmeta hospital for medical assistance.

The Interior Ministry also commented on the issue. According to the ministry, the Akhmeta Police main division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has received a report from the regional hospital on the physical injuries inflicted on the two individuals, Buliskeria and Dabrundashvili on August 22nd. Meanwhile, residents of Akhmeta, Zaur Kachmazashvili and Osiko Chichiashvili, filed a complaint with the police. According to their statement, the journalist of Studio GN trespassed on the private property belonging to Kachmazashvili and Chichiashvili.

The Akhmeta Police Department has already launched one case under Article 120 (Intentional Light Damage to Health). However, the GNS journalists are being questioned by the police department and it is still unclear under which article the case will be launched against them.