“Liberali” Editor Assaulted, Police Investigates

Zura Vardiashvili, Editor of Liberali magazine was attacked and beaten by a group of unknown assailants on the outsikirts of the capital, Tbilisi, last Saturday, September 15.

Vardiashvili told Civil.ge, that the assailants knew he was selling his car, have called his mobile phone under the pretext of arranging a meeting for this purpose, and attacked Vardiashvili immediately upon his arrival to the car repair shop.

Vardiashvili has made the news public only September 17, saying that no threats were preceding the attack. He could not identify any immediate motive, saying that while Liberali covers wide variety of issues, it has not recently been a party to a particular conflict with either politicians or businesspeople.

“It might simply be an attempt to threaten free media,” Vardiashvili told Civil.ge, noting that since some of his colleagues from the media have started to feel unsafe after the incident, “certain people might have reached their goal.”

Vardiashvili has reported earlier, that the police investigators have suggested in conversation with him, that the incident could have been a case of mistaken identity. Speaking to Civil.ge he has excluded such a possibility.

“They knew how I looked, because there were several people standing [together] and they attacked me, without asking who I was,” Vardiashvili told Civil.ge, noting the group “seemed to be too well-organized” and obviously knew the identity of the person they were attacking.

Interior Ministry has launched an investigation under the Article 126 of the Georgian Criminal Code that refers to violence. The police has reportedly identified the assailants and will interrogate them, as well as the witnesses, in the coming days.

Media professionals and civil society leaders spoke out in solidarity to Vardiashvili, urging the police to conclude the case promptly and diligently.

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