Culture Minister Tea Tsulukiani, freshly appointed as deputy PM, argued adopting legislation is necessary to curb “fake news,” during an interview with pro-government PosTV on July 12.
Minister Tsulukiani claimed that an opinion has been “established among the public” that freedom of expression is “untouchable, when it is the only article in the European Convention on Human Rights that carries significant responsibilities.”
She said media outlets are obligated by the ECHR to “provide the public with correct and verified information, otherwise, it cannot be considered [as exercising] freedom of expression.”
The Culture Minister claimed the media are “developing perceptions [among the public] that the country is collapsing, the government killed the cameraman [Aleksandre Lashkarava], that [Georgian Patriarch] Ilia ll must be arrested.”
It is necessary to explain to the public that freedom of expression is “not limitless,” stressed Minister Tsulukiani. She said that during her eight-year-long tenure at the the Justice Ministry she had worked on relevant legislation “which was shelved many times” because the issue is not “politically popular.”
“I know the pseudo human rights defenders may not like that I am talking about this,” Minister Tsulukiani noted about her opinions on ways to tackle “fake news.”
The interview comes as the tensions are running high, after TV Pirveli cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava, brutally assaulted during July 5 mass violence against journalists, was found dead on July 11. Opposition parties, CSO and media groups have accused the authorities of “encouraging the violence.” Georgian Dream-critical TV channels have been vocal in their demands for the resignation of the Georgian Government.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has argued channels Mtavari Arkhi, TV Pirveli and Formula “are directly run by [ex-President] Saakashvili and with stolen funds.” GD officials, including Minister Tsulukiani, have also accused the channels of “using tragedies for political goals.”
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