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Zviad Kobaladze – the Last Georgian Military Hostage in Tskhinvali

25.01.2010
Ana Sheshaberidze

According to the reliable information, 11 Georgian prisoners are in Tskhinvali prison now. All of them were kidnapped in different situations after Russian-Georgian armed conflict. There is only one exception, who was arrested during the armed conflict in August of 2008. He is Zviad Kobaladze, cousin of General Koba Kobaladze, who was arrested on the third day of the war.

According to the newspaper “Resonance”, Zviad Kobaladze is still in Tskhinvali prison. Tengiz Kobaladze, the uncle of the prisoner states that Zviad Kobaladze initially served in Gori military unit and then he moved to peace troops.

“Zviad Kobaladze was military person. He was arrested and tortured in Avnevi. His finger nails were pulled out. Reportedly he is not tortured now. The Ossetian side judged him for fighting against Ossetian people. He was sent to prison for 20 years”, stated Tengiz Kobaladze.

MIA refuses existence of Georgian hostages on the occupied territory. Some people say in the MIA that they have list of Georgian prisoners in Tskhinvali. However, we could not get exact number of prisoners and information about Zviad Kobaladze from the ministry.

Shota Utiashvili, head of Analytic department of MIA, reported to the newspaper “Resonance” that military persons are not among prisoners in Tskhinvali.” There are no military persons in Tskhinvali prison; as for civilians, international organizations are trying to release them and we hold negotiations on the issue”.

According to expert Mamuka Areshidze Ossetian separatists arrested 11 Georgians. He confirms that Zviad Kobaladze is in the list of MIA too:”Kobaladze is from the Prone Valley and Ossetian people arrested him when he was on his way to the valley”.

We wonder- why MIA keeps the information about imprisonment of Zviad Kobaladze in secret. Mamuka Areshidze clarified that publishing similar information might have hindered release of military person and cause additional complications. Areshidze does not exclude the possibility that the ministry tried to release him in secret.

“Ossetian people requested to exchange Zviad Kobaladze into prisoner Laliev. Georgians took Laliev to the place of exchange two times, but Ossetian people did not bring Kobaladze for various reasons- at first they claimed Kobaladze was very ill and next time new circumstances were discovered in the case”, stated Areshidze, who confirms that Areshidze was tortured.

Can factor of general Kobaladze influence the release of Zviad Kobaladze? Koba Kobaladze was accused for so-called mutiny on Mukhrovani military base and supposedly the ministry can be indifferent towards his cousin. Zurab Gvenetadze, the head of press service office at the MIA promised assistance to the Human Rights Centre in order to confirm the information, but he broke the promise. Mamuka Areshidze thinks that the tense relations between general Kobaladze and the government cannot influence release Zviad Kobaladze.

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