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Journalists fleeing freedom?2010-02-11 09:33
Georgia has long been probably the most progressive democracy in post-Soviet space as was believed in Europe and in the West. Former US President George Bush even called this small but very proud republic a "beacon of democracy" on his visit to Tbilisi. Experts claim that major democratic achievements are creation of corruption-free interior authorities and independent mass media. But development of democratic institutions in Georgia keeps stumbling - not because of endless claims of the opposition to the authorities. After all it's the opposition's task to criticize... Freedom of mass media has been a real problem lately. And no matter how hard the dominant majority tries to prove that
all is fine in the democratic kingdom - facts are glaring. Complaints about oppression of media by the authorities don't stop. Journalists take most radical decisions to leave the country.
Today it was reported that a famous Georgian journalist dealing with political investigations left the country seeking political asylum in Switzerland. His name is familiar to viewers both in Georgia and in Russia. This is Vakhtang Komakhidze. Georgian Preference, his documentary, was broadcast on REN TV in 2007.
Komakhidze managed to prove that Georgia's PM Zurab Zhvania who died in unclear circumstances - suffocated by carbonic oxide as the official version states - could not die in the apartment his corpse was found afterwards. Moreover, according to Komakhidze Zhvania could not die from gas poisoning. The author found discrepancies in statements of FBI experts invited by the authorities.
Komakhidze's movie on Zhvania's death was quite a stir among the public. As the media reported over 7 thousand came to watch the open-air run of the film in Tbilisi's largest park - Vake. A huge white screen was placed near the entrance of the park while people occupied all major alleys. All party leaders of the united opposition attended the event.
After that Komakhidze started investigating into a no less mysterious death of Georgian oligarch in disgrace Badri Patarkatsishvili who effectively raised an opposition wave in 2007 sparking confrontation with the authorities. His political activities were his least successful project, nonetheless. Quite fortunately for the Georgian authorities he died in London of some weird heart disease. Komakhidze was trying to puzzle out all these casual coincidences.