Detained Georgian journalists 'promised' to be released

The camera crew of TV3 was detained by Russian border-guards near the occupational line., 16 Apr 2014 - 01:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three Georgian journalists taken captive by Russian border guards near the occupation line near South Ossetia are in good health and have been promised to be released.

One of the journalists was allowed to contact her family last night and let them know the trio were safe.

Broadcasting company TV3 reporter Bela Zakaidze, cameraman Vahko Lekiashvili and technical support staff member Mikheil Mikhoev were detained near the Adzvi village, located near the occupation line yesterday.

"Now we are moving to Tskhinvali. They promised to release us tomorrow. Appease my mother, please," Zakaidze told relatives last night.

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the three Georgian journalists were in good health.

"We were informed that the journalists do not have any problems regarding their health condition. They have not had any demands as well,” the Ministry reported.

According to Gocha Ratiani, the Ministry’s Analytical Department head, the detained journalists had not been taken to Tskinvali.

"They confirmed that Russians detained them. They have not been taken to Tskhinvali yet. They have not made any demands. On the contrary, we have demanded the immediate release of the detainees.

"Otherwise, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we’ll mobilize international society and inform co-chairpersons of Geneva discussions”, Ratiani said.

He said negotiations were underway via the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) hotline to release the detainees

"Both Ministries of Internal and Foreign Affairs are working actively on this issue. The international Community has been informed as well, including the co-chairs of the Geneva talks," Ratiani stated.

Meanwhile relatives and friends of the detained journalists are waiting near the Ergneti post of the administrative line for their loved ones to be released. They believed the detained trio will be released from that post but do not have information where this could happen.

As they told to journalists, they had been informed that the detained trio had been moved to the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) unit in the Artsevi village.

The Georgian journalist and camera crew of broadcasting company TV3 were in the Adzvi village to report on the story of Russia’s creeping occupation as it continued to move the border further into Georgian territory.

Last night TV3 producer Eka Kardava said the crew were due to report live from the scene at 5pm but several minutes before the program started, the team lost contact with the journalists.

She added the group’s driver, who was standing near the place where the journalists were detained, informed the TV station about their kidnapping.

Last night the EUMM said negotiations had already begun between the parties in an attempt to release the detained journalists as soon as possible.