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    Special Statement of Pankisi Community Radio

    შაბათი, 05 სექტემბერი 2020 14:17 view 526
    Special Statement of Pankisi Community Radio

    Pankisi Community Radio has learned that another protest action against the radio and its founders will be held today in the Pankisi Gorge. The action is organized by the Roddy Scott Foundation and several radical groups, with the support of some Salafi community leaders, local government officials and employees of the State Security Service.

    Radical groups are calling for the shutdown of Pankisi Community Radio. In a conversation with the founder of the community radio, they mentioned that the radio covers the murder of 37 years old Visuri Mutoshvili in a biased manner and relates this case to the dispute which started between the two families over the construction of hydropower plants in Pankisi. According to them, the community radio doesn’t respect the rules of the Kist people and through active coverage had facilitated the arrest of three young men who beat a father and his underage son, breaking the father’s hand due to wearing shorts in the street. According to the radical groups, another reason why they want to shut down the radio is its reporting regarding issues related to the construction of hydropower plants. They consider that the Pankisi Community Radio, through its numerous reports and live coverage of the clash between local residents and law enforcement on April 21, 2019, has deepened distrust and resistance towards the investor, the owner of Alazani Energy, Lasha Iordanishvili and because Iordanishvili was not given the opportunity to work and was expelled, the community radio also must leave the Pankisi Gorge.

    Pankisi Community Radio has information that one of the organizers of the rally scheduled for today is a person who is leading an illegal armed group in the Gorge.

    This group is connected with the murder of Visuri Mutoshvili in front of the police in the village of Sakobiano on November 27, 2019, but only two people were arrested on murder charges.

    It must be noted that on the rally held on August 29, 2020 Pankisi Community Radio was openly threatened with office raid and obstruction of journalistic activities.

    „Mtivlishvili should be kicked out of here. People are worried that no one says anything about him. There are people out there who will throw his things (radio equipment, inventory) out of the office right now. Young people say that they are ready to do so today. We have to give him some time, 5 days or a week, after this time we will gather. Either he will go by himself, or we’ll let him go by force. Most people came here today because of this“, - said the protester Tamaz Margoshvili.

    On August 29, the rally took place 10 meters from the Duisi police department and the speakers used a sound amplifier. The video, which depicts threatening comments, was published by Pankisi Community Radio on its website and social media page. In addition, the Media Advocacy Coalition called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to provide the immediate investigation. 

    According to Article 101 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, the ground for initiating an investigation shall be the information provided to an investigator or a prosecutor, or information revealed during criminal proceedings, or information published in the mass media. Despite the above circumstances, the police have not yet launched an investigation, thus encouraging radical individuals and groups. 

    On September 4, 2020, the founder of the Pankisi Community Radio submitted a statement to the Prosecutor General of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze and demanded to start investigation.

    Due to the threat, with the aim of avoiding an expected attack/violence, the management of Pankisi Community Radio today has canceled all works and work trips in the Gorge which were designed to carry out journalistic activities and technical works.

    However, Pankisi Community Radio was informed that radical groups may attack the radio’s studio today.

    • Pankisi Community Radio urges the government to ensure the safety and security of Pankisi Community Radio and its workers, otherwise we impose responsibility on the authorities.
    • We appeal to the Public Defender of Georgia, human rights and media organizations, the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia and the international organizations to respond to the dangerous developments around the Pankisi Community Radio and the attack on free media during the pre-election period.
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