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Three Held over Assaulting Public TV Journalist
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 May.'09 / 10:41

Police arrested three activists from opposition youth group over “hooliganism,” involving assault on Nika Avaliani, an anchor of the public TV’s business news in morning program, according to the Interior Ministry.

On May 5 the opposition activists were picketing the public broadcaster’s headquarters, which has become a routine part of the opposition’s ongoing protests. The picketing, which lasts for few hours, involves blocking of the main entrance of the broadcaster, so the employees have to use another entrance from the backyard; but opposition activists are forming there a so called “corridor of shame;” an improvised cell is also erected at the gates so that the employees had to pass through it.

By the noon on May 5, when Nika Avaliani was coming out from the broadcaster’s headquarters he also had to pass that improvised cell. After passing through the ‘cell’ Avaliani suddenly started jolting ‘cell’, which triggered angry reaction of activists from the youth pro-opposition groups present there. TV cameras captured one activists slapping into the face of Avaliani, which then grew into a very brief scuffle after which Avaliani run away from the scene; but some activists from the youth groups run after him and punching him for several times. Later Avaliani said that he jolted ‘cell’ in response to a verbal insult in his address by one of the opposition activists.

The public broadcaster said in a statement released later on May 5, that “violence by the opposition activists has gained brutal nature.”

“Actions by the radical opposition are getting more and more aggressive every day,” the statement reads. “Illegal actions by radical activists from the youth groups are taking place in front of the eyes of political leaders and upon their encouragement, which seems to be natural trend in the light of terror declared by them [political leaders].”

The statement also accuses the opposition of resorting “to fascist and medieval methods.”

Also on May 5, Public Defender, Sozar Subari, who has strongly condemned attack on the journalist, met with a group of media experts, civil society representatives and also with some opposition politicians to discuss situation surrounding the public TV. General director of the public broadcaster, Levan Kubaneishvili, was also invited, but he did not attend citing “heavy schedule” and short notice by the Public Defender’s Office. Sozar Subari said on May 6, that he plans to meet with Kubaneishvili in next few days to offer some of the proposals on how to resolve the situation around the public TV. He decline to elaborate details of the proposal.

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