Russian troops rob JC reporter at gunpoint

By Daniella Peled, August 14, 2008

A JC reporter was one of a group of civilians robbed at gunpoint by a Russian soldier on Thursday morning in Georgia.

Anshel Pfeffer, also covering the conflict for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was with three other journalists in a car near a Russian army checkpoint on the outskirts of the town of Gori.

A large crowd of journalists had gathered at the checkpoint, and Mr Pfeffer, 35, said the atmosphere had been cordial, with Russian soldiers and fofficers chatting and joking with the media.

“Suddenly the mood changed and a couple of soldiers started shooting in the air. We all ran to our cars and started driving away to the Georgian positions. We were unlucky as our car was close to the Russian soldiers and our driver had disappeared. In the ensuing chaos, an angry Russian soldier threatened us with his Kalashnikov.”

The soldier forced them out of the vehicle, shooting at the ground near the foot of Ynet journalist Tzur Sheizaf.

All four journalists escaped, unharmed, to Georgian forces stationed some 300 metres away.  Just 20 minutes later, the car was returned to the journalists, together with their possessions, as the theft had happened in full view of Russian army commanders.

 “In a situation where thousands have been killed and tens of thousands have been made homeless,” said Mr Pfeffer, “what happened to a group of Israeli journalists was a minor detail.”

Last updated: 3:49pm, August 14 2008