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New Head of Rustavi 2 TV News Department Named

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Irakli Imnaishvili, a Georgian journalist based in the UK, will be the new managing director of Rustavi 2 TV in charge of its news and entertaining programs. Rustavi 2 Director General Paata Salia made an announcement late yesterday, following “lengthy negotiations.” 

Salia said Imnaishvili is a professional, resistant and critical journalist, who “due to tension from the former [United National Movement] government representatives, was forced to leave the country.” “Negotiations with Irakli are on the final stage. We hope he will become our team member pretty soon,” Salia said, adding that together they are ready to “re-create, restore and reinforce this television, which has overcome a number of crises.”

Journalists have quit Rustavi 2 TV in protest, after the new Director General announced the staff changes, dismissing several leading journalists, including the head of News Department Nodar Meladze. In his first explanation after the staff changes, the TV owner Kibar Khalvashi said he will spare no efforts “to save” and “rehabilitate” Rustavi 2 as soon as possible, and return “Kurieri” – its main news program – on air.

According to the Director General, up to 800 people, who are “loyal” to the channel did not quit. Salia also said that “the doors of Rustavi 2 are open for everyone, [for] professionals, who have worked on the channel for ages, and who want this channel to be really highly professional, independent, impartial, critical television.”

On his part, Imnaishvili, who has been working as the producer at BBC Worldwide for 14 years, said that he always wanted to bring “operational and journalistic standards,” as well as “unprecedented warrant of editorial independence of western media” to Georgia. “Rustavi 2 has been the television of victorious people but as you remember both people and its owners were deprived of it soon after the victory,” he said.

Imnaishvili then noted that if negotiations “end successfully,” he has “an ambition” to make Rustavi 2 “a television of victorious journalists.” According to him, “the fight for freedom of speech is an every day process,” and that the television should first of all “win over the censorship” from everyone, including the ruling party, former government or opposition. 

For more background, follow our tag on Rustavi 2.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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