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Russian Citizen Detained In Tbilisi, 'Planned To Kill' Georgian Journalist

Giorgi Gabunia's online tirade against Putin was harshly criticized by Russia.
Giorgi Gabunia's online tirade against Putin was harshly criticized by Russia.

TBILISI -- Georgia's Service for State Security (SUS) says a Russian citizen who was arrested in Tbilisi last week allegedly planned to kill a Georgian journalist who used vulgar words to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin in a broadcast last year.

Nika Gvamaria, director of the television station Mtavari Arkhi, said on June 15 that 38-year-old Vasambek Bokov, a native of Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia, was arrested in the Georgian capital three days earlier.

After Gvamaria's statement, Georgia's SUS confirmed that a Russian citizen, identified as V.B., had been arrested and charged with obtaining and using counterfeit documents and that he is suspected of plotting an ordered assassination.

Gvamaria alleged that Bokov was sent to Georgia by the Moscow-backed leader of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, to kill Giorgi Gabunia, a journalist with Mtavari Arkhi.

In July 2019, Gabunia called Putin a "stinking occupier" and used a string of obscenities to curse the Russian president, as well as Putin's mother and father -- and vowed to defecate on Putin's grave.

Gvamaria's controversial on-air tirade, which came while he was working for another TV channel, was condemned by the authorities in Russia and Georgia at the time.

Kadyrov publicly vowed to "punish" Gabunia at the time, saying that "Gabunia now has to hide behind seven fences because any of the millions of young men, who deeply respect Vladimir Putin, can do to Gabunia what he deserves."

In recent years, several Kadyrov critics were killed outside Russia, and many believe that either Kadyrov himself or Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) were behind the apparent assassinations.

Rights groups say Kadyrov, who has ruled the volatile region since 2007, uses repressive measures and has created a climate of impunity for security forces in the region.

They allege Kadyrov is ultimately responsible for the violence and intimidation of political opponents by Chechen authorities, including kidnappings, forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

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