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Georgia23 November 2005

New attempt to intimidate an editor

A hand grenade was thrown at the home of Gela Mtivlishvili, editor of the weekly Imedi, overnight on 22-23 November 2005, without causing any damage. It was the latest of a series of acts of intimidation against the journalist since June this year.

Governor of the Kakheti region in Georgia’s east, Akaki Sikharulidze, attacked the media as “corrupt”, in a television interview on 16 November 2005. He said that he planned to take steps against the press with the help of the special services.

He accused Gela Mtivlishvili in particular of criminality and provocation.

The journalist’s nephews were injured and several rooms in his home were badly damaged when a hand grenade was thrown inside on 15 July.

On 22 June, the journalist was brutally attacked and threatened with death by an unknown assailant in the eastern city of Gurjaani. His attacker ordered Mtivlishvili to put a stop to his investigations.

A police investigation opened in July has so far not produced any results

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Journalist brutally beaten

29 June 2005

Reporters Without Borders called for an immediate investigation after Gela Mtiulishvili, editor of the weekly Imedi, was attacked and beaten up as he was returning home in the eastern city of Gurjaani on 22 June 2005.

He was taken to hospital after the attack in which an unidentified assailant beat him repeatedly about the head with a blunt instrument.

The organisation called on Interior Minister, Vano Merabichvili, to open an immediate investigation to shed light on the circumstances of the attack and to punish the perpetrators. "We expect the Georgian authorities to provide heightened protection for journalists who are investigating sensitive subjects," it said.

Mtiulishvili was beaten as he was getting out of a taxi that had brought him home. A man approached him and asked for cigarettes, then attacked him from behind with a blunt instrument, causing the journalist to lose consciousness for several minutes.

His calls for help did however alert the local residents and his attacker ran off. His mother told Reporters Without Borders that her son had been beaten because of his work. "Just before beating him brutally about the head, his assailant told him, ’Are you going to stop writing your articles?"

The editor of Imedi published several investigative articles on the criminal practices of police in the city of Signagi, Kakheti region, accusing them in particular of running a drug-trafficking network.

Mtiulishvili also recently published an article in the paper about a certain Mzia Korkotashvili, whose son was killed during a special police operation in the Kakheti region.

Head of the Gurjaani regional administration, Akaki Sikharulidze, condemned the assault on Rustavi 2 television on 23 June, saying that it was a typical attack on an independent journalist. "People are avid for the truth, journalists should be allowed to do their job," he said.

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