Controversial TV Personality Faces Sexual Harassment Allegations

Three women stepped forward to accuse Shalva Ramishvili, highly controversial media personality, presenter, and co-founder of the PosTV channel, of sexual abuse and harassment. Ramishvili heads a propagandist channel, PosTV, where the controlling stakes belong to MP Viktor Japaridze, member of the sovereignist group People’s Power.

People’s Power is a part of the Georgian Dream majority in the parliament, while MP Japaridze is among those who formally initiated the Russia-inspired “foreign agent” law targeting civil society organizations and media, which was retracted following the widespread protests.

The wave of accusations against Ramishvili started when a woman shared her story on social media, saying Ramishvili sexually harassed her during a job interview “seven or eight years ago.” Since then, two other women have stepped forward with their own public accusations of sexual abuse.

Ramishvili has been convicted of sexual harassment before: in 2018, the charges of sexual harassment were upheld by two levels of courts. Ramishvili was fined 2,000 GEL by the Tbilisi City Court.

Ramishvili also served a four-year prison sentence in 2005-2009 after being convicted for blackmail and extortion from the MP in exchange for not airing a TV report with allegations of corruption. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found in 2009 that Ramishvili and his co-defendant have been kept in inhuman conditions during their pre-trial detention and obliged the government to pay non-pecuniary damages.

Ruling party MPs back Ramishvili

GD MPs promptly condemned the allegations, calling them part of a “fascist campaign” and arguing that the presumption of innocence should be upheld.

GD faction head and spokesperson, MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, stated that the accusations were “not credible,” pointing to the fact that the allegation came to light seven years after the alleged fact. He said it was a part of the opposition’s “fascist campaign” against the critical media. He also said the opposition used “Bolshevik” tactics of groundlessly accusing individuals.

GD MP Mikheli Sarjveladze argued that the allegations should not be driven by “few handpicked stereotypes” and that the presumption of innocence should be respected.

GD MP Nino Tsilosani, chair of the Gender Equality committee in the parliament, addressed the allegations in a Facebook post. She warned against jumping to conclusions or making accusations without due process, stating that while abusers should be held accountable, justice must be served through the legal system and not by the “morality police.” She argued on the parliament floor that the opposition’s calls for the ruling party MPs to refrain from participating in Ramishvili’s talk-shows are tantamount to “generally opposing the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners or convicts.”

Ramishvili says “defamation”

Commenting on the allegations, PosTV said in a statement that personal attacks against its management and presenters have multiplied. “This campaign seems to be aimed at obstructing the progress of the channel,” they argued. The statement also reads that “PosTV has always prioritized conservative values such as homeland, religion, family values, and dignity.”

Ramishvili welcomed the statements of the “Georgian Dream” and said he was a target of the “campaign of defamation carried out by the NGO sector.” He reiterated that the attack was triggered by PosTV’s “growing influence and weight.” “We continue to work. This bullying and shaming does not affect me and Post TV, we know exactly why this is happening,” Ramishvili said.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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