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NGOs concerned about safety of Georgian blogger

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, August 21
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) based in Georgia have released a statement regarding the recent detention of a civil activist and journalist, Tamar Mearakishvili, by the de facto South Ossetian authorities.

Mearakishvili, who has been active on social networks and is known for her criticism towards the Russian-backed Ossetian government, was released by the Tskhinvali Prosecutor’s Office several hours after she was detained in Akhalgori late on Wednesday.

“We call upon the Georgian authorities to use all diplomatic and legal means available to secure the safety and rights of the activist,” the statement of the NGOs reads.

The NGOs say that after Georgia-Russia 2008 war, Mearakishvili continued to live in South Ossetia and frequently criticizes “the corrupt and repressive policies of the Tskhinvali de facto authorities”.

“She closely cooperates with various independent media outlets and speaks openly about the problems in the region, including the discrimination and harassment practices of ethnic Georgians living in Akhalgori,” the statement says.

The civil sector added that recent detention is not the first case of abduction for Mearakishvili.

According to the NGOs, on 31 July 2017, the so-called law enforcement agencies of the Tskhinvali region de facto regime summoned the activist and asked questions about cooperation with the Ekho Kavkazanews agency and tried to intimidate her through aggressive communication. On June 8 of the same year, Mearakishvili was kidnapped from the Akhalgori district in occupied Tskhinvali.

The organizations explain that despite the fact that Mearakishvili was released by the militia of Tskhinvali several days ago, there are risks that legal prosecution will acquire a persistent and discriminatory nature.

The NGOs call on the Georgian government to ensure the safety of Mearakishvili and her family by using all possible diplomatic channels.

They also call on international organizations to become involved in the case and use all possible mechanisms against the Russian Federation and the Tskhinvali de facto authorities in order to prevent the persecution and violation of the human rights of Mearakishvili.

Mearakishvili was detained on August 16 and released several hours later. The activist told the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s reporter that she was stopped by the chief investigator of South Ossetia, Alan Baiazrov, who, without any explanation or notice, took her to the regional prosecutor’s office.

Her family said she is accused of spreading defamatory information about Spartak Dreyev, a member of “president” Bibilov's party.