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Investigative Reporter Asks for Asylum in Switzerland
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Feb.'10 / 12:12

Vakhtang Komakhidze, a long-time Georgian investigative journalist, said he had to leave the country and seek asylum in Switzerland because of “aggressive threats” coming from the authorities” against him and his family.

Komakhidze, who is now in Switzerland, said in a e-mail sent to Georgian news website presa.ge that he started receiving threats after visiting Tskhinvali late last year during which “I obtained important materials regarding the August, 2008 war.”

Komakhidze traveled to breakaway South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali, in mid-December together with Paata Zakareishvili, a frequent commentator on conflict issues, affiliated with the opposition Republican Party and Manana Mebuke, head of the Tbilisi-based non-governmental organization working on confidence-building.

“I am not aware which particular information [obtained in Tskhinvali] could have been especially painful for the Georgian authorities, for example, the one according to which State Minister [for Reintegration Temur Iakobashvili] was negotiating with the authorities in Tskhinvali on August 6 [2008] evacuation from Tskhinvali of a grandmother of Alana Gagloeva, an employee of Georgian President’s press office, or some other information available for me,” Komakhidze said. Alana Gagloeva has denied Komakhidze’s claims as “absurd”.
 
Komakhidze ran an investigative reporting production studio, Reportiori (Reporter), which among other investigative documentaries also produced a piece on May 21, 2008 election day shooting incident in Khurcha, which challenged an official Georgian version of the incident and claimed that the incident was staged by the Georgian authorities – the claim, which was later strengthened by UN probe results.

Komakhidze is also an author of a documentary investigating circumstances of PM Zurab Zhvania’s death five years ago, casting serious doubts over official preliminary conclusions (officially the investigation is still unconcluded) that the late PM died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty gas heater.

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