The employees of Adjara TV and Radio company, a publicly-funded broadcaster based in Batumi, held a protest rally today against Giorgi Kokhreidze, who was elected as the new director of the broadcaster on November 22.
Journalists accused the new director of “blackmail” and “surveillance” and demanded from him to stop “attacking and discrediting employees” as well as raising “unjustified accusations” against them.
According to journalists, following the impeachment of Natia Kapanadze, former director, about seven months ago, it was critical for the employees to ensure that the editorial policy remained independent from governmental influence.
However, according to them, in the first place, the new director elected with the support of Georgian Dream-nominated members of the Board of Advisers, tried to revise the editorial policy and urged his deputy, Natia Zoidze, who served as acting director for seven months, to change the terms of her contract and distance herself from the editorial activities.
“The new director accused the entire editorial board of acting under [partisan] political agenda, partiality and staging shows. He told us that we are biased, he does not trust the reports on our activities prepared by international organizations, including either OSCE, or recently published rankings,” Adjara TV employees said, calling on those members of the Board of Advisers who expressed trust to the new director to assume responsibility for the ongoing processes.
The post of Adjara TV’s director became vacant in April 2019 after the Board of Advisers impeached Natia Kapanadze that triggered strong criticism from local non-governmental organizations. They claimed that the ruling party was against the broadcaster’s critical editorial policy and that it tried to change this editorial line.
The ruling party members have openly expressed discontent with Adjara TV’s editorial policy on various occasions. Tornike Rizhvadze, head of government of Autonomous Republic of Adjara, and Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of the ruling party, were among them. Earlier, Parliament’s ex-Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze also called on Adjara TV journalist for “distancing” from the National Movement.