"They knocked me on the head with a pistol and started kicking me."
Late last night the Vilnius ship brought eight Georgian citizens who had been deported from Ukraine to Poti. Amongst them was Rustavi 2 TV operator Tamaz Shavshishvili who for the most part was busy reporting on the activities of the ex president of Georgia, who is now in the Ukrainian opposition, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Tamaz Shavshishvili had been missing for two days with his family and workplace looking for him. He said that he was kidnapped from his apartment in Kiev. Thereafter he was dragged around the whole day with his eyes blindfolded, and in the end put on the ship.
Shavshishvili was told that he would not be allowed to return for three years.
“One week earlier I received journalist’s accreditation by the Ministry of Information of Ukraine with which one can see that I have the right to work in Ukraine,” Shavshishvili told the journalists who met him at the port in Poti.
“At around 11:00 am, 15 armed special service agents came in. They knocked me on the head with a pistol and started kicking me. I didn’t understand what was happening – they covered my eyes with tape and took me somewhere. I didn’t know where I was. They stuffed me into the trunk of a small bus, and we went in an unknown direction – I couldn’t see anything. After some time, they changed cars. Then another two times. Then I heard the sound of a helicopter, and I understood that we are at the airport. They put me in the helicopter, they read me something, from which I understood that I would not be allowed to return to Ukraine for three years. They put me on the floor in the helicopter, and we flew in an unknown direction. We were in the air for about two hours. When we landed, they put me into a car with special service agents. Then I ended up on a boat. This took the entire day. I couldn’t feel anything, only the blood which was coming out of the wounds on my face. They just kidnapped me from home,” Shavshishvili told journalists.
He believes that his handlers changed during the course of the day.
“They spoke only amongst themselves. I was asking why they were doing this to me, for what purpose, but they didn’t tell me,” says Shavshishvili.
He says there were other deportees on the boat from various Ukrainian cities, also Georgians. There were about ten of them he says. The Georgian Embassy in Kiev confirms that the security services of Ukraine forcibly returned eight Georgian citizens to their homeland due to ‘activities that do not coincide with the interests of ensuring the national security in Ukraine’.
The Georgian Embassy says that the Ukrainian side has not specified the details of the event.
The third president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, who currently heads one of Ukraine’s opposition parties commented on the event on social media.
In his opinion, the head of the personal guard of the president of Ukraine personally supervised the operation to detain Georgian citizens. Saakashvili writes that Georgians from Kiev to Odessa were delivered on three helicopters, and 50 special forces soldiers escorted them to the ferry. Mikheil Saakashvili asserts that the participation of Peter Poroshenko, the head of the personal protection service, in the operation is a violation of the law.
“Poroshenko is afraid of me personally, because he can not declare me an agent of Putin and because I have a successful history,” Saakashvili writes.