Several hundred residents of the gorge held a protest rally in Pankisi. They have questions connected to a recent special forces operation conducted in the region
Residents of Pankisi Gorge have appealed to the Georgian authorities over a recently-conducted special operation which took place on 26 December which resulted in the arrest of five Pankisi residents, civil.ge has reported. One of those detained, 19-year-old Temirlan Machalikashvili, received a head injury and is now in hospital.
The State Security Service reported that law-enforcement agents shot at Machalikashvili when he tried to detonate a grenade. However, his relatives claim that he was sleeping when law-enforcement agents burst into his room. The council of elders of Pankisi Gorge has called for an emergency meeting in the village of Duisi and released a short statement: “We, the residents of Pankisi Gorge, are scrutinizing the events which have developed recently in Pankisi, and which are connected with the special operation conducted by Georgian forces.
“In this situation, our opinion is united in the fact that it is the prerogative of the Georgian authorities to maintain order in the country and from this point of view no one is against the activities that took place.
“However, our discontent is based on the methods that were used, as a result of which one young person – Temirlan Machalikashvili – is now in critical condition and his life is under threat,” says the statement of the council of elders. Later, several hundred local residents held a protest rally in Pankisi. One of the participants of the protest, Murad Goderdzishvili, told journalists that the actions of the security forces and their treatment of Machalikashvili had given rise to ‘anger across the Pankisi Gorge’. He also expressed protest over the stereotype that associates Pankisi Gorge with terrorism and criminality.
Goderdzishvili said he hopes that ‘the case will be objectively investigated and the criminal punished – whoever made the shot that hurt this young man. If this is not done, we will see what can be done within the framework of the law’.