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Former Georgian serviceman captured by Congolese rebels

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, February 27
Georgia’s Defence Minister, Levan Izoria, says the Georgian government is ready to be in constant communication with the government of the Congo to receive more information about a Georgian citizen who was captured by Congolese rebels in January.

The minister says he himself is not involved in the negotiations; however, he claimes that no efforts will be spared to return Georgian citizen home.

Beka Dvali, Georgia’s ambassador to the Congo, says dialogue is underway through all diplomatic channels to free the Georgian citizen.

“In such a situation, when our citizen is taken hostage, we should act carefully to have positive outcome,” he said.

Congolese authorities officially confirmed the incident on February 22.

They said one Georgian was wounded and another was captured after two helicopters of the Congolese Air Force (one of which was piloted by a Georgian citizen, Soso Osurauli) were shot down by rebels on January 27.

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated the wounded man was treated in eastern Congo and is safe now. However, the captured Georgian still remains a hostage.

MFA reports that these people are former soldiers and arrived in the Congo independently.

“The Foreign Ministry is in contact with the government of the Congo to get all the details about the situation and to protect legal rights of our citizens," the statement says.

The neighbors of Osurauli, who live in Kvemo Alvani, say that the rebels are asking for 1 million USD in exchange of the Georgian pilot. The locals claim that Osurauli’s brother received short text messages asking for money.

However, the information has not been officially confirmed by the Georgian authorities.