TV company Channel 9 has responded to the June12 incident in Zugdidi and made a request for the launch of the investigation into an illegal interference into journalistic activities. According to the footage released by the TV company some individuals wearing civilian clothing are preventing the Channel 9 journalist and cameraman to work. The aforementioned individuals, according to the TV company, are the United National Movement members employed at Zugdidi Sakrebulo.
Reporting to Media.ge the Channel 9 journalist Paata Lagvilava recollects that on June 12 he, together with his cameraman, was visiting the village of Oruli to film Bidzina Ivanishvili’s meeting with the villagers. Reportedly up to 40 UNM members and Sakrebulo employees were present at the meeting.
“In five minutes following Ivanishvili’s appearance some individuals started screaming “Misha, Misha.” Looking back I saw some UNM representatives and Sakrebulo employees. I headed to them. Before leaving one of the opposition representatives Gia Alasania told me Sakebulo had organized their attendance at the rally. Therefore I wanted to enquire whether that was true. My question ensued their aggression. Sakrebulo’s chief specialist Irakli Miakia first seized the camera and then the microphone and twisted my wrist. Another chief specialist Lado Sulukhia and lawyer Davit Chanturia were very aggressive too,” Lagvilava stressed in his interview with Media.ge.
Following this incident, said the journalist, on June 13 he was unable to get inside Sakrebulo premises. Channel 9 released footage featuring Lagvilava asking the UNM youth wing leader Levan Kalandia why he is resorting to violence against journalists. In response Kalandia says: “It serves you right, that’s why. You are serving Ivanishvili and nothing else.
The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) is rendering the Channel 9 journalists assistance with legal proceedings. Following the consultation with GYLA Paata Lagvilava appealed to the Interagency Commission under the National Security Council of Georgia. The Commission is responsible for the investigation of similar cases within the pre-election period.
Lagvilava is planning to lodge an application to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office to initiate the case. According to Article 154 of the Criminal Code of Georgia illegal interference into professional activities of the journalist is punishable by a fine or jail sentence of up to two years in length; by deprivation of the right to occupy a position or pursue a particular activity.