The Media Advocacy Coalition, uniting local media watchdogs, said on December 15 that it suspects pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV Director Nika Gvaramia has become subject to “various forms of pressure systematically” from the ruling Georgian Dream party representatives.
The Media Coalition’s statement comes after Gvaramia claimed on December 12 that he had been threatened with the criminal case against him being resumed and his property confiscated before the end of the year.
Recalling that then-Rustavi 2 TV Director Gvaramia was charged with abuse of power and misappropriation of property in the summer of 2019, the Media Coalition underscored that “law enforcement agencies did not provide any credible explanation for the case,” adding that the Public Defender assessed the criminal prosecution “as legally unfounded.”
The CSOs also paid attention to the fact that the court considerations against Gvaramia, stalled for months following foreign-mediated March 8 deal between the ruling party and opposition parties, has resumed after October 31 parliamentary elections. According to Gvaramia, the court notified him on December 1 of scheduled hearing for December 7, but the latter announced on December 2 of further postponement.
“The issue of personal safety of Nika Gvaramia and his family members has been questioned several times over the past year,” the media watchdogs noted, referring to the January 2020 physical assault on the Mtavari Arkhi TV director outside the Tbilisi City Court, as well as to claims by Gvaramia that his family was under surveillance by the Prosecutor’s Office for 28 days.
“Amid constant criticism toward independent media from government officials, we are afraid criminal prosecution against Nika Gvaramia aims to change the editorial policy of Mtavari Arkhi,” a process that negatively affects the work environment of its journalists, the Media Coalition said.
Expressing support toward Nika Gvaramia and Mtavari Arkhi TV, the Media Coalition called on Georgia’s international partners to put the issue of journalists’ safety and media freedom on the political agenda and to safeguard Gvaramia from “obvious threats and political persecution.”
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