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South Ossetia: IWPR Contributors Amongst War Dead

Reporters were caught in gunfire in Tskhinvali.
By IWPR

Two journalists who contributed to IWPR, Gia Chikhladze and Alexander Klimchuk, have died in the conflict over South Ossetia. We send our deepest sympathies to their loved ones.



Both of them were in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali and died there on August 8, when their car was fired on. Their relatives and friends are doing everything they can to try and get their bodies delivered home to Tbilisi.



Giga was working for Newsweek and had been employed by a number of publications in Georgia, such as Eurasianet and Civil Georgia. He was 30 and leaves behind his wife Nata and two children, Sopho and Luka. He was the only breadwinner in his family and was also supporting his wife's parents.



Alexander (Sasha) was 27. He began his career as a print journalist, then became a photographer and worked for ITAR-TASS news agency. His pictures were also published in foreign publications such as Le Monde, Newsweek and the Financial Times. He was unmarried. His parents relied on him for an income.



The two, who were great friends, had both worked for IWPR. Giga wrote many stories for the Caucasus Reporting Service on subjects as diverse as Dukhobors, Kurds, AIDS sufferers and ostrich farms. Sasha took photographs that were published in our newspaper Panorama and also formed a photo-exhibition in our office.



"I loved working with Giga," said Marina von Koenig (formerly Rennau), IWPR's former Caucasus director. "He would always try to find interesting angles to stories, talk to lots of people until he was sure that there was nothing he could have missed. He loved to travel on assignment. Even without a commission, he would follow his intuition and bits of information to remote areas of Georgia to return with an exciting story.



"South Ossetia was one of the places he went to regularly, coming back with features, interviews or pictures. He had friends there."



Giga was a great nature-lover and once walked all the way from Bakuriani in central Georgia to Tbilisi. He also loved literature. "I heard his parents and neighbours saying that he was quoting Pushkin's poems when he was just three," said Marina. "They loved to retell this story."



Timo Vogt, a German photographer with whom Sasha built the Caucasus-Images agency, said of his colleague, "Sasha often reacted with humour to the problems and difficulties in his country.



"Photography became his life. He always approached foreign photographers who visited Georgia, and invited them to his house.



"All the fees he earned as a photographer were spent immediately on his parents who cannot work any longer. Once when he wanted to buy a new lens for his camera, his washing machine broke and the lens had to wait. His family was a priority. He wanted a simple life, he wanted to travel and to take pictures. But his last trip brought him into a war."



Unfortunately Giga and Sasha are not the only journalists to have died in the conflict. A Dutch cameraman, Stan Storiman, 39, was killed in Gori on August 12. More than ten journalists have been wounded. (Details can be found on http://www.newssafety.com)



An appeal has been set up to help Giga and Sasha's families. Go to http://www.caucasus-images.com/georgia_war/index.html

 

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