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Journalist Assaulted in Sighnaghi District Board of Administration

25.07.2008
Tamar Makhasvhili, Kakheti

Gela Mtivlishvili, a journalist physically and verbally assaulted by representatives of Sighnaghi District Board of Administration The security then ousted the journalist from the Board of Administration. Pikria Jokharidze, the representative of the Board of Administration told the journalist that they had been instructed by the Board of Admnistration and who in turn were instructed by Kakheti Regional Administration to adequate use force against  journalists should it be deemed necessary.  

The journalist demanded that the Sighnaghi Board of Administration  information officer showed him (journalist)  his own {officer’s} decision to reject the application of Giorgi Chkheidze, the head of Georgian Young Laywers Assocaiton  about access to public information. The requested information was about the funding of Sighnaghi’s rehabilitation activities. 

“We have been requesting the Sighnaghi District Board of Administration to give us the information which is permitted under public law and based on the General Administrative Code. However, we have had our requests rejected. Several days ago Shorena Kadagishvili, the interim Sighnaghi Municipality public information officer gave me the official document that was a refusal of our request for public information.  I read in the document that “the legislative system on public information does not indicate that the state bodies are accountable to answer the questions that the applicants are interested in obtaining.”

 “This explanation is illegal as I and representatives of various NGOs always have problems in our concerted efforts to obtain information from Sighnaghi District Board of Administration. Consequently I then decided to seek the information in the Administration building instead of waiting for the official answer that would take days-and-days, and then not to be provided at all.

I went to Kadagishvili, the public information officer and requested that she provide or show me the decision #1 that she made on rejecting the appeal of Giorgi Chkheidze, head of GYLA to grant him information under  the freedom of information act. However, the information officer actually blocked the information on how much money was spent on Sighnaghi rehabilitation and who had paid the money in question. Her decision was sent to Board of Administration of Kakheti districts as a guideline for others to follow. Now the public officers of Kakheti local administrations repeat the same stupid answer that they received from Sighnaghi Board of Administration; it being as a the preferred guideline for refusals.

Kadagishvili told me to wait. She went to Vano Petriashvili’s chamber that is the head of Sighnaghi Municipality. When she returned she said she could not give the information. I demanded that she told me why she was refusing. Pikria Jokharidze, the local government employee and the activist of the National Movement entered the room. She was aggressive from the beginning.

I remembered that many innocent people were arrested in Sighnaghi Board of Administration under the charges of hooliganism; I knew that Sighnaghi District Administration and Nugzar Abulashvili, Sighnaghi District MP and the factual head of the local government dislike me as I have published many critical articles and reports about them. I also remembered that there were several people in the administration who were proficient at provoking people and I might become their next victim. I realized everything in a just a minute, and turned the recorder on and continued my conversation with Kadagishvili. Jokharidze assaulted me verbally, cursed and used foul language against me. She was shouting: who the hell are you to demand public information. Several men entered the room. I insisted that they told me who they were but instead they twisted my hands behind my back, proceeded to beat me and ousted me from the building. Vano Petriashvili, the deputy district governor was there,” states Gela Mtivlishvili.

Jokharidze stated that they were instructed by the Sighnaghi District Governor who received instructions from Kakheti Regional Administration not to share public information with journalists and to oust them from the building when necessary.

Giorgi Botkoveli, the deputy Kakheti Regional Governor denies that there was any incident in Sighnaghi district administration. However, Gela Mtivlishvili has the audio tape. One can hear that journalist is being ousted from the Administration building by force. “I talked to the Sighnaghi District Governor and he said there was not such incident. He said that there was only an argument. As for the above-mentioned instructions we don’t give such.

-How does the Sighnaghi District Governor know what happened in the Board building? He was in village Ulianovka on the protest demonstration when the incident occurred.

-He received the information from the Board of Administration employees.

-And did you believe them? It  is illogical.  Board employees would never have said that they had assaulted and ousted a journalist for having demanded public information. By the way the regional administration does not give the journalists public information as well and they do not adjudicate our administrative appeals….

-I will learn everything in detail.

Gela Mtivlishvili sued Sighnaghi District Governor for numerous instances of him blocking access to public information. He now demands that disciplinary action be taken and the person be held accountable for the refusal to follow the law and provided the requested information.
 

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