(Prague/Washington--June 4, 2003) Staff at U.S. international broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) were shocked to learn of the sudden passing in Prague yesterday of Georgian Service Director Goulnara Pataridze. Pataridze, a member of the Georgian Service since 1967 who served as service director since 1986, was 59 years old.
RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine said of Pataridze in a message sent to all staff, "Goulnara was our sister, she was our friend, she was the leader of our Georgian Service, and she every day exemplified the practice of liberty and democracy."
A dedicated, skilled and conscientious journalist who devoted her professional life to RFE/RL, Pataridze joined the organization as an intern in July 1967. She was appointed the Chief Editor (Director) of the Georgian Service in 1986, managing the service in difficult and heady times that required both determination and adaptability. If, in 1986, simply listening to RFE/RL was considered by the Soviet government to be an anti-patriotic and even subversive act, by the time of Pataridze's death the Georgian Service was considered one of the most important sources of information in all of Georgia.
The daughter of Georgian refugees, Pataridze was born in Paris on July 22, 1943. A graduate of the Lycee Jean de Lefontaine and the Ecole Superieure d'Interpretes et de Traducteurs de l'Universite de Paris, Pataridze had a flair for writing on issues of concern in a manner that appealed directly to her audience. Her fluency in Russian, German, English, French as well as her native Georgian, allowed Pataridze to draw on a formidable range of sources in preparing her programs, sources that were generally inaccessible to her listeners. Deeply patriotic and concerned about the fate of the Georgian nation but also immersed in French culture, Pataridze managed to maintain a critical distance that allowed her to appreciate both her country's strengths and foibles.