Journalist Irakli Absandze Dismissed from Georgian Public Broadcaster
Irakli Absandze, a journalist critical to the Georgian Dream government, said on August 10 that the First Channel of the Georgian Public Broadcaster has terminated his employment contract.
Absandze became particularly critical towards the government in light of recent developments in Tbilisi, protesting the July 5-6 homophobic violence against journalists, the death of TV cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava and slammed the government’s handling of the process. Absandze used swear words against the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Facebook on July 11, in reaction to the police floating narcotics overdose version behind Lashkarava’s death, who was brutally beaten up during July 5 violence.
Also yesterday, Absandze said the decision to dismiss him was possibly taken by a few, or even one person, and called on his supporters not to generalize criticism to the entire broadcaster. He further slammed Director General of the Pubic Broadcaster, Tinatin Berdzenishvili for lobbying to cover “constructive news” in this “systemically collapsed country.”
The Georgian Public Broadcaster has yet to release an official statement on the journalist’s dismissal. In the interview with Netgazeti, Giorgi Gvimradze, head of the news section at the GPB cited a breach of contract as the reason behind Absandze’s dismissal.
“Under the contract terms, each employee of the Public Broadcaster should observe the rules of conduct, GPB’s internal regulations and the forms of conduct on social media, and he was aware of it,” Gvimradze told Netgazeti.
Following the July 5 homophobic violence against journalists, Irakli Absandze, who hosted the Interview of the Week talk-show, was actively involved in protest rallies along with other media representatives, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri over the death of cameraman Aleksandre Lashkarava.
Absandze was detained on July 12 during a rally outside the ruling Georgian Dream party headquarters, on administrative offenses. The apprehension took place amid minor skirmishes between activists and the police, with police approaching Absandze and telling him he was drunk, which the journalist denied.
Absandze reportedly broke his hand as police were detaining him. Media Advocacy Coalition, uniting more than a dozen CSOs, argued then that video footage showed that Absandze had not resisted the detention.
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