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Georgia9 September 2005

Journalist beaten up after revealing corruption

Reporters Without Borders called for a thorough investigation after investigative journalist Saba Tsitsikashvili, of local daily Saxalxo Gazeti (The People’s newspaper) was beaten up by five assailants on 5 September.

The journalist who was set upon near the station in the northern city of Gori, close to the border with South Ossetia, was left with several injuries including concussion.

He had feared some kind of assault after 1st September when he was insulted by Revaz Gogiashvili, head of Gori city’s legal department, after he had carried out an investigation into agricultural firm Dzevera, recently bought for a song by the municipality.

“I am convinced that I was attacked because of my articles that were critical of the local authorities and in particular Mikheil Kareli, governor of Shida Kartli region,” Tsitsikashvili said.

“I exposed abuse of power and corruption by the regional authorities on several occasions, including the fact that they continue to oversee a huge network smuggling food and oil from South Ossetia,” he told Reporters Without Borders.

“It is essential that the perpetrators of this attack are quickly identified so that this investigative journalist can be protected,” said Reporters Without Borders.

“It should be remembered that President Mikhaïl Saakachvili promised to defend press freedom when he came to power in 2003 after the “Rose Revolution”.

“We therefore call on interior minister, Giorgi Baramidze, to order a transparent and independent investigation to punish whoever was responsible for this cowardly attack in an exemplary fashion and, if it is relevant, those who ordered the attack,” the international press freedom organisation said.




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