TV journalist Telara Gelantia said in a social media post that she was denied entry into a meeting of the Government Administration on the grounds that she was “breaking the rules”, and “asking a lot of questions that disturb other colleagues.” Gelantia has been covering government sessions for the past ten years for various outlets. She now works for the Business Media Group (BMG).
The journalist said she had “a reasonable doubt” that the critical report she authored about the lack of transparency in government decisions was the reason for blacklisting her.
The report, aired on 9 September brought the public’s attention to the fact that the Government Administration has not published the government decrees on its website for the past two years, despite being legally obliged to do so. The coverage also said a significant share of such decisions was related to gifting or selling public property for symbolic sums. Quoting watchdog analysts, it claimed the lack of transparency carries high corruption risks, and that publishing the decrees is a critical public interest.
Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili, who briefed the press after the Government meeting, said he was not informed about Gelantia’s case. “The Administration of Government will make a statement,” he said.
The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics Responds
The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics released a statement on the same day that emphasized that such actions “on the part of a public agency is unacceptable and aggravates the hostile environment towards journalists.”
The Charter stressed that such an unequal approach to different media outlets is “unacceptable and discriminatory.” “The role of the media in the development of democratic society is irreplaceable, therefore it is important that the representatives of all media outlets are on equal terms,” it added.
The Charter called on the Georgian government to refrain from placing critical media representatives in discriminatory situations and to create appropriate working conditions.
The Administration of Government has yet to comment on the matter at the time of publication.
Note: The Article was updated on 12 September at 17:15 to reflect the statement of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics.