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Politicians, CSOs Assess Cyberattack on TV Pirveli

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The ruling party, opposition and local civil society organizations made assessments about the cyberattack that took place upon Tbilisi-based TV Pirveli on August 13, causing damage to its central server.  

Civil.ge offers a compilation of these assessments.

Ruling party assessments

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze expressed regret over the cyberattack and expressed hope that the TV channel will resume its broadcast “in the shortest possible time.” He slammed cybercrime as “the gravest challenge” of the 21st century and noted that Georgia should share the experience “of the best countries” and focus on prevention.

He denied allegations about government’s pressure on media as “a speculation” and “an attempt to score political points.”

“Media pluralism and media freedom are one of the greatest achievements of the Georgian Dream party. We will do our utmost to ensure that media freedom and media pluralism are protected in the country,” he said.

Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze said that the government will spare no efforts to investigate the crime, “if it actually took place.” The Speaker says he is “ convinced the relevant bodies will spare no effort ” to investigate the matter.

Opposition assessments

MP Elene Khoshtaria of the European Georgia party said that it is “ridiculous” to claim that “a certain hacker decided to attack the TV channel.”

“It is absolutely clear that it is part of Russian-styled attacks on televisions. Bidzina Ivanishvili [chairman of the ruling party] should understand that he will lose the game,” Khoshtaria told reporters.

Nino Goguadze of Free Democrats party said that “this government hates freedom of speech; it hates any free space that is not controlled by it and certainly, it wants to change TV Pirveli’s editorial policy, which is a platform for freedom of speech.”  

Davit Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party does not rule out the government’s involvement in the cyberattack, saying that “to prove the contrary, the government should solve the case in the shortest possible time.” “But, of course, months will pass and the case will not be investigated,” he added.

CSO assessments

Local civil society organizations called on the government to investigate the cyberattack “timely and effectively.”

Mikheil Benidze, head of International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, said that the government should react to the issue “clearly and quickly” and punish all perpetrators. He, however, expressed doubt that the government would do it. Benidze said “taking into account there are no answers to the Khazaradze case [TBC Bank Affair] yet, we can question whether the government has an interest in investigating this [TV Pirveli] case.”

Giorgi Oniani of Transparency International Georgia said that the government has a problem with “reputation” and “a great part of the society admits that the government may be behind the cyberattack.” “Now, the ball is in the government’s court; it has to justify itself and provide the result, which will be reliable for people,” he added.

The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics also called for timely investigation of the cyberattack.

Tbilisi-based TV Pirveli announced on August 13 that it suspended broadcasting after cyberattack damaged its central server.

A week before the cyberattack, TV company’s founder, Vato Tsereteli was summoned for questioning in connection with the TBC Bank case over money-laundering allegations.

Tsereteli wrote on his Facebook page before questioning: “I will not let you silence TV Pirveli!!! It will not be under influence of anyone! You have no chance! You will not be able to arrest or frighten everybody! We have sustained all attacks and will sustain this one too!”

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