‘Efforts of Journalists Enlivened Foreigners’
28 July, 2011
‘Efforts of Journalists Enlivened Foreigners’

Will international organizations demand well founded arguments?

“I wonder whether journalists apologize when the official evidence is published,” said Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, who himself has uniquely blended the Russian citizenship with the Georgian ministerial power. He has been holding citizenship of the country, which in the eyes of our Authorities runs a full-fledged network of spies, employing slavish Georgian journalists. The court proceedings have not taken place. Nor has the world seen “the serious evidence”, which the Georgian Deputy

Head of MIA had pledged in the interview with BBC. Still, I think it is time for the Georgian media to “apologize”.

‘Aapologize’, because when we called on those phone numbers which were indicated in the alleged evidence as those belonging to Russian intelligence agents who were communicating with the arrested photo reporters Kurtsikidze and Abdaladze, we found out that owners of these numbers were ordinary citizens, rather than spies, using their numbers for no less than 10 years;

‘Apologize’, because after seeing the list of crossed out names of Georgian UN officers that allegedly had been handed over to the KGB, we got interested and looked through the UN website only to find there the full list of these names.

We talked to Ramaz Sakvarelidze on Georgian reality:

Q: The photo reporters were freed right from the court hearing hall. They promised to collaborate with the investigation. Thus, the case of so called spy photo reporters has retained its shroud of obscurity. The public immediately came out with several possible explanations. Some think media won. As for the Authorities, they claim they obtained extremely important revelations from the reporters.

A: According to one more explanation, the prosecutor’s side never had any material evidence. That is why they chose the path of procedural settlement to avoid open court examination of the case and subsequent embarrassment of certain people. Additionally, in light of statements of the American Embassy and other diplomatic missions, it was clear that if the accusations turn out to be lame and unconvincing, foreign partners would have reacted without fail. I think the efforts of journalists made foreigners more active, which in turn forced the Authorities to change the tactics. It’s a victory of not only journalists but also Authorities because the latter restrained emotions and directed the case in a more rational channel. Yet, it’s a single episode of the big confrontation which may exacerbate in the future. I am afraid this fact may provoke new actions of the Authorities in the future.

Q: The United States and other western diplomatic missions said right at the beginning of the process that they expected sensible arguments from the investigation. Nothing like that has been produced so far. Will the Authorities ever receive a request to disclose the evidence behind the arrests?

A: I do not think foreign friends of Georgia will emphasize this topic at this stage. They will however make a big note of these unpleasant days which clearly showed shortcomings of the Georgian democracy.

Q: The law enforcers interfered with the work of journalists regarding the 26 May events. It is however not known who and how many people were put to justice for this reason. Do you think classification of such topics is adequate?

A: Probably it is a disrespect of the public because it has the right to know what happens in the police funded by the state budget. I do not believe there is even a single argument in favor of classifying the events taking place in the police, especially when it concerns the crime against the public committed by police officers.

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