19 February 2009, 19:00
Abkhazian public wants Bagapsh's explanations on threats to Inal Khashig
David Bagapsh, head of security service of Abkhazian President, expressed threats to Inal Khashig, editor-in-chief of the Abkhazian newspaper "Chegemskaya Pravda". According to Inal's colleagues, the threat was to follow Anna Politkovskaya's fate for Khashig's critical publications. The administration of President Sergey Bagapsh denies the threats, and the public waits for President's explanations and calls to maintain pre-election peace.
"In the afternoon on February 6, Inal Khashig was strolling along the embankment in Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia," Valery Kurskua, a journalist of the local private TV Channel "Abaza", told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. "According to Inal's story, a car drove up to him, and David Bagapsh, head of President's security and his nephew, Kondrat Samsoniya, Sukhumi Deputy and Director General of the "A-Mobile" Company, and the head of an advertisement department of Sukhumi Mayoralty, went out of the car."
According to the colleagues of the editor-in-chief of the "Chegemskaya Pravda", the men invited Inal "to go with them". Akhra Smyr, another Abkhazian journalist, continued the story to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent: "Those men took Inal Khashig out of the city to a waste ground and promised that he would follow the fate of Russian journalists Dmitri Kholodov and Anna Politkovskaya, shot dead by gunmen, if he didn't change the tone of his publications." According to Inal Khashig's colleagues, after the talk they brought Inal back to the embankment.
According to the journalists, "the influential trio" were irritated with the publication in the "Chegemskaya Pravda" dated February 3 entitled "Love without Program" and written by Inal Khashig. The article was on the congress of the "Yedinaya Abkhazia" Party, in which the editor was rather ironical in describing the event, touched on the actual problems of the republic and expressed doubts of the readiness of incumbent President of Abkhazia to the following term in office, which can be ensured at presidential election in 2010.
Inal Khashig himself withheld his comments on the incident in his conversation with the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. "I wish to be away from all this," the journalist has explained.
On February 18, Abkhazian journalists signed-in under appeal to President of Abkhazia Sergey Bagapsh, giving details of what happened, expressing their concern of the situation with the freedom of speech in the republic, and asking to give his reaction.
"The journalists' appeal has not yet arrived to the President," Christian Bzhaniya, official representative of Abkhazian President, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. "When it does, the reaction will follow."
The MPs, oppositional to the current Abkhazian power, wait for the reaction from law enforcement bodies to the incident. "I have no doubts that this fact took place," Batal Kobakhiya, member of the parliamentary committee for human rights and legality of Abkhazia, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. "I hope the prosecutor's office will react to the journalists' appeal. I also have information that President Sergey Bagapsh is planning to give a press conference on the issue."
Author: Natalia Korchmarek, Anzhela Kuchuberia; Source: CK correspondent