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Georgian Journalist Seeks Political Asylum In Switzerland

Vakhtang Komakhidze
TBILISI -- Georgian journalist Vakhtang Komakhidze has said he must leave the country because of "aggressive threats" from the authorities against him and his family and has therefore requested political asylum in Switzerland, RFE/RL's Georgian and Russian services report.

Komakhidze said he faces political pressure because of a documentary he made about Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

In December, Komakhidze and several other human rights activists visited the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, and shot a documentary about life there.

After his film was shown in Tbilisi, Komakhidze said he started receiving telephone threats that led him to contact the Swiss Embassy and eventually ask for political asylum.

Komakhidze, who heads a video studio called Reporter, is well-known in Georgia for his investigative reports on the death of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and his friend Raul Yusupov in February 2005.

Komakhidze made a documentary hinting that Zhvania did not die accidentally from carbon-monoxide poisoning, as was officially reported, but that he was assassinated.

A Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesperson told RFE/RL that Komakhidze has no reason to request political asylum, but his desire to do so is his own business.