Two Detained Over Assault on Mtavari Arkhi TV Crew

Chief of Special Investigation Service, Koka Katsitadze said today that two persons have been detained over the assault on government-critical Mtavari Arkhi TV reporter Ema Gogokhia and cameraman Zviad Ablotia late on March 17, in the western town of Zugdidi.

Katsitadze noted that one of the detainees was the head of the Zugdidi office of the Conservative Movement, a far-right party established by the notorious Russia-aligned anti-liberal group Alt-Info.

The suspected assailants face charges under Article 154 (1) — unlawful interference with journalists’ professional activities and Article 156 (2a) — persecution committed with violence or threat of violence.

The maximum sentence for the crime is a three-year prison term.

The incident happened in Zugdidi, outside the office of the Conservative Movement. According to the Mtavari Arkhi TV reporter’s account, there were about eight assailants, armed with brass knuckles.

Gogokhia had further claimed the police were watching the incident “from afar,” only intervening after several citizens came to help the journalists.

The Media Advocacy Coalition, uniting over a dozen watchdogs, has warned the attack was a result of a hostile environment for the media, and was encouraged by inadequate response [by the authorities] to multiple crimes committed against journalists.”

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