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EPUK appeal on behalf of Sasha Klimchuk and Giga Chikhladze.

31 August 2008 - EPUK

They promised to take care of each other’s families should one of them die. But photographer Sasha Klimchuk and journalist Giga Chikhladze were killed in the same incident. Now their families need help.

EPUK is launching an appeal for cash to help the families of a young photographer and a journalist killed during the recent conflict in South Ossetia.

Sasha (Alexander) Klimchuk was head of the independent photo agency Caucasus Images based in Tbilisi, Georgia. The 27 year old was freelancing for the Russian news agency Itar Tass at the time of his death. Giga Chikhladze, 30, was freelancing for Russian Newsweek.

Sasha and Giga had promised to look after each other’s families should one of them die. But the friends were shot in one terrible incident in Tskhinvali, the war-torn capital of South Ossetia on August 9th 2008, two days after fierce fighting broke out in the region.

Giga Chikhladze and Sasha Klimchuk, shortly before their deaths.

British photographer Mark Pinder, a friend of Sasha, spoke of his sadness and recalled Sasha’s enthusiasm and hospitality.

Zaza Gachechiladze, publisher of the English language newspaper, The Messenger remembers Giga Chikhladze as a talented, intelligent, risky journalist who did not avoid challenges.

Timo Vogt, co-founder of Caucasus Images said the families of Klimchuk and Chikhladze now have no means of paying their bills. Gas, electricity and water, school supplies, food, clothes, and the medication Sasha’s elderly parents so desperately need can no longer be paid for.

The coffins of Giga Chikhladze and Sasha Klimchuk are closed.

Life is difficult for the bereaved in Georgia. There is no government support for relatives of the self employed killed in the course of their work. The cost of public transport, bread and gas in the country have increased by up to 100% in the past two years.

An appeal for aid that Timo made immediately after the shooting on August 9th should repay the expenses incurred by Sasha and Giga’s funerals. But the families – now without their breadwinners – will struggle to survive this autumn and the coming winter.

This appeal to EPUK members – and to the wider photographic community – is to ask for donations to help the families of Sasha Klimchuk and Giga Chikhladze survive at this most difficult of times, and to help them build a future.

Please send what you can. £10 would go a long way for an ordinary family in Georgia. £30 would cover the basic food costs for two people for a week. £50 would pay for an apartment’s basic running costs for a month.

EPUK is starting the fund off with a donation of £200.

The photographer and journalist who promised to help each other’s families would thank you for whatever you send in friendship.

Update: Donations have been closed and the money has been sent to the families – a very big thank you to all who donated. We will be updating this story shortly.

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