On December 1, a US-based correspondent for the pro-governmental Imedi Rusa Shelia TV resigned from her position, citing the company’s alleged anti-USA agenda. She pledged to pursue her career in professional journalism “from a new independent media platform free of political influence.”
In her op-ed published on the Georgian online media platform on.ge, Shelia delves into the history of her disagreement with Imedi TV’s management. According to her, she was covering the Russia-Ukraine war, when, in July 2022, she was assigned to Washington D.C. in July 2022 to revive the channel’s US bureau.
Shelia notes that Imedi TV initially had no objection to publishing her interviews, commentaries and other material. However, she claims that over time, the network’s interest in covering issues that were considered important not only to the Georgian media, but also to the global media, waned. She recalls that the shelving of the interviews and other material she produced began slowly, step by step, carefully and covertly. Instead, she claims, she was given assignments that were exclusively “aimed at discrediting the United States”.
Shelia asserts that she raised the issue with her supervisor multiple times, expressing her view that such assignments were unacceptable due to their perceived “anti-Western content.” She claims to have had a “specific conversation” with one of the TV company leaders, leading to an agreement to extend her contract until at least April 2024, with her actual stay in the US until December of the same year.
However, Shelia claims that after her critical public Facebook post against the “Russian Law” also know as “Foreign Agents Law” pursued by the government in March 2023, she got multiple “hysterical” calls from the TV channel and was asked to return to Tbilisi, despite the initially agreed-upon conditions. While she received no specific explanation for the decision, she believes it was “obvious” that Imedi TV was closing the bureau prematurely due to her public stance. She then agreed with the company about the resignation in December 2023.
“If anyone else has questions about my decision, or tries to spread wrong information, I am absolutely ready to give comprehensive answers at any time, in any format. This is a very hard process for me, but I have a clean conscience and this feeling makes it easier for me to speak,” Shelia wrote.
In March 2023, a number of Georgian professionals, opinion-makers, civil society organizations, professional associations, and journalists reacted to the proposed law on “foreign agents” and discussed the unfavorable consequences that will result from its adoption. Among them was Rusa Shelia who wrote on her Facebook account that “this law does not only distance us from the West returning into an indefinite isolation, it can also cause the worst civil conflict. Those who think that being a politician is just pressing the green button must feel the responsibility.” A number of other TV Imedi journalists have also voiced their opposition to the “Foreign Agents” law.
In another instance, Keti Partskhaladze, a journalist associated with the pro-governmental TV channel “Imedi” since 2013, parted ways with the channel in October 2023. In a social media post, she revealed that she had been directed to shift her coverage from cultural news to political matters, attributing this directive to the onset of the election year and the heightened political tension in the country. Despite the subsequent removal of her post, Partskhaladze asserted that she was not the one who deleted it and maintained her stance on the matter.
- 06/03/2023 – Public Outcry over the Proposed “Foreign Agents” Law
- 10/03/2023 – Quick Take | “Foreign Agents” Bill Down, but Ruling Party Rhetoric Not Out
- 10/03/2023 – Majority Drops the Bill on “Foreign Agents” in the Second Reading