On March 13, Giorgi Kokhreidze, director of Adjara TV and Radio Company, Batumi based public broadcaster, dismissed Teona Bakuridze, anchor of the broadcaster’s main news program and a vocal critic of the channel’s new management.
Bakuridze, who was suspended from her position since March 6, slammed the decision, stressing that she “will stand side by side her [former] colleagues against the censorship.”
In the order of dismissal publisized by Bakuridze on Facebook on Friday, Kokhreidze accused her of “gravely violating” the broadcaster’s internal regulations, namely of assaulting acting head of newsroom Giorgi Abazadze, and hindering the latter from performing his official duties.
According to the order, Bakuridze “psychologically abused” and “bullied” the acting head of newsroom and news editor, Giorgi Abazadze and Piruz Bolkvadze, respectively.
The order also reads that Bakuridze “deliberately [and] purposely ignored the [news] editor’s instructions, incited tension and conflict situation[s], which jeopardized the proper functioning of the news service.”
Later on March 9, former head of newsroom Shorena Glonti, her former deputy Maia Merkviladze (who was downgraded to another position) and Teona Bakuridze, then suspended from her position, announced of launching a legal dispute against TV’s management to protect their rights.
Dozens of employees of Adjara TV have been expressing their protest against the new management’s interference in the broadcaster’s editorial policy for the last few months. Nino Khozrevanidze, journalist of Adjara TV’s Tbilisi Bureau, also quit her position as a sign of protest in late February, accusing the broadcaster’s director Kokhreidze of deliberately destructing the idea of a [public] broadcaster. Earlier, on February 2, Natia Zoidze resigned as deputy director of Adjara TV, saying that it was not “a voluntary process.”
Reporters without Borders (RSF), Paris-based international media watchdog condemned Bakuridze’s dismissal late on Friday and called on the Georgian authorities to “stop political pressure” on Adjara TV.
Journalist Bakuridze was “vocal against the attempts to change independent editorial policy of the public channel,” noted RSF.
#Georgia: Friday night dismissals are becoming a tradition @ajaratelevision. Journalist Teona Bakuridze, vocal against the attempts to change independent editorial policy of the public channel, has just been fired. @RSF_inter calls on the authorities to stop political pressure. pic.twitter.com/Sd37xe7Abn— RSF in English (@RSF_en) March 13, 2020
Earlier on March 5, RSF) published an alert about recent developments Adjara TV on the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote protection of journalism and safety of journalists. In the alert titled “several journalists sacked due to political pressure on public channel Adjara TV,” RSF said it is “concerned by the increasing control over the media in Georgia.”