Georgian journalists released

The camera crew of TV3 was detained by Russian border-guards near the occupational line., 16 Apr 2014 - 19:35, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three Georgian journalists have been released after being taken captive near the occupation line near South Ossetia.

Broadcasting company TV3 reporter Bela Zakaidze, cameraman Vahko Lekiashvili and technical support staff member Mikheil Mikhoev were detained by Russian border guards near the Adzvi village yesterday.

The trio were detained for slightly more than 24 hours.

The journalists were returned to the Georgian side at the Ergneti post. Ergneti is a small village on the administrative boundary line that separates South Ossetia from Georgia. It is near Tskhinvali, the breakaway region’s capital.

Zakaidze, Lekiashvili and Mikhoev 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.

After their release, Zakaidze told TV3 via phone that they were not verbally or physically abused but she was forced to say she had been to Tskhinvali before. This was untrue and Zakaidze said she had never been to this region before.

She also complained of the "unhygienic" conditions in the detention center.

Earlier today Russian authorities claimed the three Georgian journalists were detained near the South Ossetian so-called border because they had violated border controls and "created provocations".

On the contrary, the Georgian Foreign Ministry believed the illegal detention of the trio on April 15 by Russian occupation troops was "another provocation” and called for the immediate release of the TV3 crew.

The situation was also discussed during a meeting between Georgian PM’s special envoy for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, today in Prague.