Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based international media watchdog, has called for “a thorough and transparent investigation” into an alleged plot to murder Georgian TV anchor Giorgi Gabunia “using a suspected Russian hitman.”
In a statement released on June 18, the watchdog appealed to Georgian authorities to place Gabunia under protection.
RSF cited a Georgian media outlet claiming that a Russian national of Ingush descent, arrested on June 12, was sent by Ramzan Kadyrov, who “rules Ingushetia’s neighbor, the autonomous Chechen Republic, with an iron hand.”
The watchdog noted that Gabunia hired bodyguards after being intimidated by Kadyrov last year.
“A loyal ally of President Putin, Kadyrov often threatens journalists and tries to silence critics, even those abroad,” stressed RSF.
Jeanne Cavelier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, stated that “no matter how outrageous and shocking, Giorgi Gabunia’s comments do not in any way justify a murder attempt or threats.”
Cavelier urged Georgian authorities to conduct “a thorough and transparent investigation” into the case, “in complete independence from the Russian authorities, and to do everything necessary to guarantee Gabunia’s safety.”
On June 15, Nika Gvaramia, director general of opposition-leaning Mtavari Arkhi TV, announced at a press conference that the State Security Service foiled a plot to murder Giorgi Gabunia, a TV host, who had addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on air using expletive-laden language last year. Gvaramia alleged that an ethnic-Ingush hitman, a Russian national, was sent to Georgia to murder Gabunia on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s orders.
As stated by the State Security Service, a Russian citizen was arrested on charges of purchasing and using forged documents. The agency said the suspect was also investigated for plotting to commit a contract killing.