A solidarity rally was held outside the Parliament on February 17 to support the employees of Adjara TV and Radio Company, Batumi based public broadcaster. The rally, organized by the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics and journalists, was attended by journalists and civic activists.
Protesters carrying the banners reading “Do not interfere,” “Freedom to Adjara TV,” “You will not overpower us” gathered outside the Parliament at 4pm and protested recent developments at Adjara TV.
The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics laid entire responsibility for recent developments at Adjara TV on the ruling Georgian Dream party and “calls on the government to ensure editorial independence of the broadcaster and not to allow dismissal of even a single employee from the TV channel.”
Tazo Kupreishvili, editor of online outlet “Netgazeti,” said that the appointment of new director of Adjara TV posed a threat to the broadcaster’s editorial independence.
“It is our duty to defend freedom of speech of these journalists, because it has not begun with Adjara TV and will not end with it either,” Kupreishvili added.
Maia Metskhvariashvili, editor of Studio Monitor, said that “what is happening now poses a threat not only to Adjara TV, but it generally destructs the idea of public broadcaster and aggravates media landscape in Georgia.”
Lika Zakashvili, editor of online outlet Publica, stated that the Georgian government intends to change Adjara TV’s editorial independence and impartial policy through the new director, Giorgi Kokhreidze. “The government does not like independent and impartial Adjara TV,” she added.
Solidarity rallies in support of Adjara TV staff were also held in various regions of Georgia.
Paris-based international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders tweeted about the events in Adjara TV. “Journalists are protesting today against political pressure on a regional public TV channel Adjara TV in Batumi, on the Black Sea coast,” RSF stated, adding that it “calls on the authorities to respect the editorial independence of Adjara TV’s newsroom.”
#Georgia: Journalists are protesting today against political pressure on a regional public TV channel @ajaratelevision in Batumi, on the Black Sea coast. @RSF_inter calls on the authorities to respect the editorial independence of Adjara TV's newsroom. pic.twitter.com/6jC8SeZzM6— RSF in English (@RSF_en) February 17, 2020