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Watchdog Takes Cases of Acting, Dismissed Adjara TV Employees to Court

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The Human Rights and Monitoring Center (EMC), a local watchdog, has applied to Batumi City Court to defend the interests of Shorena Glonti and Maia Merkviladze, respectively, former head and deputy head of newsroom of Adjara TV and Radio Company, a Batumi-based public broadcaster. The organization clarifies that the claimants demand reinstatement to their previous positions.

“We suppose that the decisions in respect of both Maia Merkviladze and Shorena Glonti were made in gross violation of the law and aimed at restricting powers of persons responsible for the editorial independence,” EMC said in a statement released on March 30.

The organization also noted that the decisions made in respect of the claimants, involving their dismissal and shifting to another positions, “were clearly illegal and unjustified that is also confirmed by the decisions made in respect of other critically disposed employees of the broadcaster.”

“The process of dismissal of Maia Merkviladze and Shorena Glonti was preceded by a number of staff changes and practice of disciplinary persecution that still continues. Deputy Director Natia Zoidze quit the position due to restriction of her powers and grave working environment,” EMC noted.

In this context, EMC also focused on the facts of dismissal of Teona Bakuridze, former anchor of the broadcaster’s main news program, and dispatching journalist Teona Kharabadze for reporting to Kutaisi, western Georgia, without a cameraman to assist her.

EMC told Civil.ge that it has already applied to court over the issue of suspending Teona Bakuradze from office, while the case on her dismissal will be taken to court this week.

On February 19, the Board of Adjara TV accepted the proposal by Giorgi Kokhreidze, the director, to abolish four positions of deputy heads, among them the position of deputy head of newsroom. Maia Merkviladze, who held the latter position, and simultaneously served as a news editor, was officially dismissed. Merkviladze was offered to work as a producer of non-existent talk show or as an editor of radio newsroom. Although Merkviladze accepted the proposal and stayed in the broadcaster, she slammed Kokhreidze’s decision as an attempt to downgrade her position in the broadcaster.

Shorena Glonti, another key figure in maintaining editorial independence of the TV, was dismissed as head of newsroom on February 28, following disciplinary procedures launched against her earlier.

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