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The Daily Beat: 3 May

On World Press Freedom Day, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) addressed President Salome Zurabishvili with a letter, calling her to pardon the manager of the opposition TV channel Mtavari Arkhi, Nika Gvaramia, and thus help bring Georgia closer to the EU membership. In a joint letter, the MEPs reiterated their condemnation of the politically motivated sentence of Nika Gvaramia, noting that critical media should never be silenced as it is an essential element of a vibrant democracy.

Local human rights watchdogs also issued a statement describing Nika Gvaramia’s imprisonment as a politically motivated ploy to suppress a critical voice. Human rights organizations directly linked Gvaramia’s case to 12 conditions necessary for obtaining the EU candidacy. They called on the Supreme Court to consider the case promptly and impartially and on the president to pardon the opposition-minded TV manager.

A local watchdog Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia), reported the significant deterioration of the media environment over the past year. Gvramia’s case, violence against journalists, the draft law on “foreign agents,” and new accreditation rules at the parliament are among the report’s main findings, indicating the systemic deterioration of the media environment.

In the meantime, Georgia’s press freedom ranking rose from 89th in 2022 to 77th in a survey released on May 3 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based press freedom watchdog. Despite the slight increase in rankings, RSF described the Georgian media landscape as diverse but highly politically polarized, where manipulation, hate speech, and disinformation are widespread.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S.-founded non-profit, released a new public opinion poll on May 3, indicating Georgian citizens’ unwavering support for political (54%) and economic (52%) cooperation with the European Union. “However, the aspirations of the Georgian people come into contrast with a perception that the government is not doing enough to ensure EU membership,” according to the survey.

NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Emerging Security Challenges James Appathurai is visiting Georgia to boost scientific cooperation in tackling new security challenges, including in the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program (SPS). He participated in the event organized with the support of the Foreign Affairs and of Education and Science ministries, which brought together over fifty participants from public and private research institutions. The event focused on recent activities within the framework of the Program, including research on resilience and the protection of infrastructure.

Meta of the Day

According to Meta’s quarterly report, it has deleted 80 Facebook accounts, 26 pages, nine groups, and 2 Instagram accounts associated with the Georgian Government’s Department of Strategic Communications for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” “Although the people behind this operation attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to the Strategic Communications Department of the Government Administration of Georgia,”- the report revealed. Meta says that this network targeted multiple apps, including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, originated in Georgia and focused on domestic audiences, sharing criticisms of the opposition, particularly during the most recent protest rallies against the “foreign agents” law.


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