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Television journalist Georgi Sanaia killed

(IPI/IFEX) - In a 27 July 2001 letter to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, IPI strongly condemned the murder of Georgi Sanaia, a news presenter at the independent Rustavi-2 national television station and one of Georgia's most popular television journalists.

Sanaia, 25, who also hosted a late-night political discussion programme, was found dead in his flat by police and colleagues late on Thursday 26 July, after he failed to report to work. He was shot in the back of the head with a single bullet from a nine mm gun, police said. Sanaia's colleagues maintain that the journalist was killed because of his work.

The last journalist to be murdered in Georgia was Antonio Russo, whose body was found on 16 October 2000 on a mountain road some eighty kilometres east of Tbilisi. Russo, who worked for a radio station affiliated with Italy's liberal Radical Party, was killed by a powerful blow to the chest with a blunt object. He had focused on the war in neighbouring Chechnya and had made several trips to Chechen refugee camps in Georgia. Authorities did not rule out the theory that he was killed because of his journalism, although his murder remains unsolved (see IFEX alerts of 24 and 20 October 2001).

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:
- welcoming his decision to personally order an immediate investigation into Sanaia's murder
- urging him to ensure that everything possible is done to swiftly bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of both Sanaia and Russo, and to do everything in his power
to ensure the safety of journalists working in Georgia

Appeals To

H.E. Eduard Shevardnadze
Republic of Georgia
Tbilisi, Georgia
Fax: + 995 32 99 86 90

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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