Mikheil Gogilava, the former host of the Stream program at the Georgian Times, alleged that he was fired from the show for asking critical questions to Goga Khaindrava, a director and pro-Georgian Dream commentator.
During a live broadcast on June 13, Gogilava asked Khaindrava if his assessment that “granting Georgia candidate status means nothing and does not deserve much agitation” could be seen as an insult to the people of Georgia that went through a war and whose people sacrificed lives to continue down the European path.
During a bitter exchange, the anchor also asked whether it “is the government trying to portray the European choice of the majority of Georgian people as the whim of a minority by attacking European parliamentarians and high-ranking Ukrainian officials?”
Khaindrava, irritated by the questions, responded by asking if Gogilava was a member of the United National Movement, the Georgian Dream’s bête noire, claiming his narrative did fit that of the opposition.
“You turned out to be a member of the United National Movement, be well,” Khaindrava told Gogilava and hung up the video call.
Gogilava told TV Pirveli that following the broadcast, he was yelled at by company heads who told him that he was “removed” from broadcasting for an unspecified amount of time.
“I always knew that Goga Khaindrava did not equal freedom, but I could not imagine that asking critical questions would equal losing a job,” Gogilava wrote in a June 14 Facebook post.
“I thought I worked in an independent media, to which the response of one of the [Holding] co-owners that ‘we never told you that we are an independent media,‘ was absolutely astonishing,” the journalist asserted.
Per Gogilava, another Georgian Times co-owner told him that if he wished to ask similar questions, he could rather create his own TV channel.
Georgian Times Responds
The Georgian Times denied pressuring Gogilava, saying that the anchor had hosted the Stream program the next day as well, after which he decided to leave of his own volition.
“We found out about his final decision in a Facebook post since he still has all of his personal belongings in the editorial office to date,” the company said in the June 15 statement.
The company also said that the host was not criticized for any critical questions. It added, moreover, that “the idea of one of the critical questions was provided to him by one of the heads of the news service.”
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The Media Holding (Georgian Times) combines the trilingual (Georgian, English, and Russian) websites: gtimes.ge; the news agency Gtmedia.ge; the English-language weekly paper The Georgian Times; GT Radio (gtradio.ge); TV Gttv (gttv.ge); the outlet Georgian Times; PR agency – G.T. PR; advertising company – Gt advert and Gt design; and the Center for Strategic Studies and International Relations – Opinion.
According to the latest extract of the public registry from September 17, 2021, Malkhaz Gulashvili is the 100% owner of the Holding company while the director is Kakha Maskharashvili.