14 July, 2011


How the ‘Associated Press’ Photographer was released

‘Your President has a very smart press-secretary, sometimes he calls and reproaches us for some information’, - we, the Georgian journalists were told at the ‘Associated Press’ office about one and a half months ago. We certainly got interested why the President’s press-secretary reproached them. As it turned out it wasn’t the Georgian press-secretary but a PR specialist hired in America.\The reason for reproach was the following: ‘ In one of its articles the

‘Associated Press’ made a slip, using the term ‘State of South Ossetia’ instead of ‘South Ossetian Autonomy’. We certainly know that South Ossetian Autonomy is within the boundaries of Georgia and never doubt it for a second, it was just a mistake and the remark of the Georgian side was acceptable for us’, it was specified at the ‘Associated Press’ office. I wouldn’t have recalled it if Shakh Aivazov, the ‘Associated Press’ photographer was not detained. It’s true that, unlike others, he was only interrogated as a witness and quickly released but a lot of unanswered questions are pending.

What could Aivazov witness? That Gedenidze and Abdaladze sent photos to EPA or some of his colleagues were taking shots of secret drawings of the President’s Administration building? How was Aivazov released and who interfered? Many journalists tried to contact him but in vain. After this unpleasant event the ‘Associated Press’ journalist switched off his phone. We contacted the AP office to inquire what they thought about ‘Aivazov’s several-hour’ detention; whether they contacted the President’s press-secretary or the Georgian side to clarify the situation. On these and other questions they gave us a short answer:

‘The AP photographer Shakh Aivazov was detained too but after several hours he was released without indictment. The security service searched his flat at dawn and took the computer and disks. He expected that the technical equipment would be returned… Giorgi Abdaladze was a photographer who took snapshots on contract; he worked for the ‘Associated Press’ covering the clashes between the police and rally-members in May.’

We can suppose that Aivavov’s ‘interrogation as a witness’ was connected with photo-reporter Gia Abdaladze as there are no evidences against him. The Interior Ministry’s ‘video material’ is insufficient because instead of photos they demanded the list of Abdaladze’s fees from Frankfurt that cannot be used as proof. Abdaladze considers himself not guilty and as a protest he is on dry hunger strike. After Irakli Gedenidze’s testimony the situation of Zaza Kurtsikidze is grave because he confessed that Kurtsikidze blackmailed him and for this reason he cooperated with ‘an organization under the cover of foreign special forces’.

It is to be noted that two weeks prior to his detention Irakli Gedenidze was awarded for successful work. As we found out he received it from the President himself. The President’s press speaker denied this information: - The President didn’t award Irakli. About two weeks ago he was given a certificate by some State organization.

As for Gedenidze’s wife, Natia Gedenidze, she has no desire to speak with journalists. She was released after paying GEL 10000 bail.


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