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Georgian Government Says Not Involved In Attacks

Mikheil Saakashvili 7 September 2005 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's spokesman today denied accusations that authorities are behind recent attacks against independent journalists.

Gela Charkviani described such charges as "absolutely groundless," saying that the government is "interested in finding the truth about these incidents."

Yesterday, unidentified attackers assaulted Saba Chichikashvili in the central town of Gori, near the separatist region of South Ossetia.

Chichikashvili, a local correspondent for the Tbilisi-based "Akhali Versia" (New Version) newspaper, blamed the regional governor for the attack.

Hours later, Irakli Kakabadze, a journalist for the "202" private television channel was beaten up in a Tbilisi street while returning home from work.

Kakabadze has alleged the government was behind the assault but changed his story today, saying he had been attacked by common criminals.

Kakabadze took over from Shalva Ramishvili as "202's" main anchorman after the latter was arrested last month on charges of blackmailing a member of Georgia's ruling party. Ramishvili denies the accusations.

(Civil Georgia/Prime News/Reuters)