1644412772 • law
RSF: The severity of the verdict and sentence in the Nika Gvaramia case suggests that it was politically motivated with the aim of weakening an opposition media outlet
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for a review of opposition TV channel director Nika Gvaramia’s unprecedented and probably politically motivated conviction for “abusing his position” at the TV channel he previously ran, for which he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. The organization has published a statement on this issue, in which it expresses concern about the growing threats to independent and opposition media in Georgia.
“This is the first time the head of an opposition media outlet has been given a jail sentence in Georgia. The director of Mtavari Arkhi TV, the opposition television channel he founded in 2019, Gvaramia was convicted by a court in the capital, Tbilisi, on 16 May of causing financial losses to Rustavi 2 TV, the TV channel he previously ran for eight years.
Gvaramia denies the charge of misappropriating funds that should have gone to Rustavi 2 TV and intends to appeal against his conviction”, reads the statement.
“The severity of the verdict and sentence in a case with such a dubious basis suggests that it was politically motivated with the aim of weakening an opposition media outlet,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
According to her, in recent years, the Georgian authorities have not only displayed a certain passivity in the face of attacks on press freedom but also a readiness to obstruct the work of opposition journalists.
“We urge the courts to conduct an immediate independent review of Nika Gvaramia’s conviction and we call on the authorities to uphold their international obligations to ensure a safe environment for all media in Georgia,” she said.
“The prosecution said that, while heading Rustavi 2, Gvaramia broadcast ads for the Porsche car company in exchange for one of their luxury cars, thereby causing financial losses to the TV channel. While not disputing these claims in an analysis of the case, Georgia’s ombudsman, who is elected by parliament, said the prosecution had failed to produce evidence of any criminal liability.
The most popular of Georgian media outlets critical of the government, Mtavari Arkhi TV continues to broadcast despite difficulties and harassment. Gvaramia, who is also the lawyer of Georgia’s now jailed former president, Mikhail Saakashvili, is to be replaced by his deputy, the journalist Giorgi Gabunia, and by the lawyer Dimitri Sadzaglishvili, who will share the director general role.
Mtavari Arkhi TV is often the target of attacks by the authorities. In November 2021, it was fined 111,303 Lari (36,469 euros) for broadcasting videos supporting Saakashvili, an opponent of the now ruling Georgian Dream party. Representatives of this party, including deputy prime minister and culture minister Tea Tsulukiani and Tbilisi mayor Kakha Kaladze, have accosted and harassed Mtavari Arkhi TV reporters while they were covering the party’s activities,” reads the article.
Georgian and Ukrainian basketball teams will hold a qualifier match for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 on July 1.Ukraine chose Riga as the host city of the match due to the ongoing war in the country.The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) First Channel will live broadcast the match at 8 pm local time.
Society • 1656695050
According to the data published by the National Bank, as a result of today's trading, the value of 1 US dollar became 2.9077 GEL. Today's rate was 2.9283 GEL. Accordingly, the change of the dollar in relation to the national currency amounted to 0.0206 GEL.As for the euro, its exchange rate is 3.0403 GEL. While today's exchange rate was 3.0504 GEL. Accordingly, the change of euro amounted to 0.0101 GEL.
economic • 1656688080
The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party Friday presented an action plan for fulfilling the 12-point conditions outlined by the European Council (EC) for granting Georgia the European Union membership candidate status later this year.At today’s press point, GD Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze unveiled the steps to meet the said conditions in a due course.Below is GD’s full statement:As you know, the European Union set out 12 items as a condition for granting Georgia candidate status. We would like to remind you that most of the said items are part of the Association Agenda, which was agreed by Georgia and the European Union several months ago.The ruling team will ensure the fulfilment of the 12 items set out by the European Union in the appropriate time and manner in accordance with the following plan:Item 1. Reducing political polarizationThe first item among the conditions must be viewed as a kind of foundation for the effective implementation of the remaining 11 items. Political polarization is one of the main challenges facing our country, in view of which political discussion is hijacked by issues of secondary importance to the public that are of narrow political significance to various political entities, instead of dealing with issues of importance to the state. To change this situation, first and foremost, it is important to reduce the radical confrontation between political forces and to declare a kind of moratorium on aggressive rhetoric. Of course, we are fully conscious of our responsibility in this regard. Similarly, for the next six months, the opposition should refrain from rhetoric that implies the non-recognition of the authorities’ domestic or foreign legitimacy. The same applies to the media (which, according to the conclusion of OSCE-ODIHR, is one of the main sources of political polarization in Georgia) and nongovernmental organizations (a significant part of which is directly involved in the campaign of polarization).In order to promote depolarization, a Polarization Monitoring Group will be set up under the Parliament of Georgia with the participation of all parliamentary parties, civil society representatives, and international partners. The group will carry out constant monitoring and present a weekly report to the public about the polarization-related situation and trends in the country. The monitoring report will reflect recommendations for political parties, media outlets, nongovernmental organizations, and other entities involved in political processes. The composition and work format of the monitoring group will be specified on the basis of consultations with parliamentary political parties and civil sector representatives.The position held by international partners and their fair and healthy attitude toward polarizing actions will be of special significance in terms of depolarization.The chairman of the Parliament of Georgia will ensure the coordination of the implementation of item 1.Item 2. The effective functioning of state institutions, parliamentary oversight, and election legislationA working group will be established under the Procedural Issues and Rules Committee of the Parliament of Georgia with the participation of representatives of all parliamentary parties and the civil sector. It will provide a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the Parliament’s regulations in the field of parliamentary oversight and will prepare a legislative initiative to correct any shortcomings identified.The corresponding draft law will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative no later than 21 September and will be adopted no later than 1 November.A working group for the revision of the Election Code will be created under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, which will include Parliament deputies from all parliamentary political parties as well as representatives of the Central Election Commission, the State Audit Service, and the civil sector. Amendments to the Election Code of Georgia will reflect, as appropriate, the recommendations provided by OSCE-ODIHR and the Venice Commission.The corresponding draft law will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative no later than 21 September and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 13 December. The draft law will be sent to the Venice Commission and OSCE-ODIHR for an opinion prior to passing its second hearing.Item 3. Judicial reform, changing the procedure for the election of the general prosecutor, and the election of non-judge members of the High Council of JusticeAs you know, a Judicial Reform Working Group has already been set up under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia that includes the representatives of all parliamentary political parties. The said working group will actively resume its work in the coming days and prepare a strategy and action plan for judicial reform as well as a package of relevant draft laws on the basis of the in-depth analysis of the current situation in the judicial system.The judicial reform strategy and action plan will be prepared and published by 1 October. Legislative amendments will be prepared on its basis and submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative by 1 November. As soon as the draft law is initiated, it will be sent to the Venice Commission and OSCE-ODIHR for an opinion. The discussion of the draft law in Parliament will begin as soon as the opinions from the Venice Commission and OSCE-ODIHR are received.The draft constitutional law on the procedure for the election of the general prosecutor will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia by 1 September and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 29 November. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament will coordinate the adoption of the constitutional law.The Parliament of Georgia will begin the selection process of non-judge members of the High Council of Justice no later than 30 September and voting for the election of Council members will take place no later than 15 November. We would like to remind you that the votes of 90 Parliament deputies are required to elect members of the Council. Therefore, it is the responsibility of both the ruling team and the opposition to ensure that they are elected in accordance with the conditions set out by the European Union.Item 4. Anti-corruption measuresA working group will be created under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia that will prepare the concept of the consolidation of anti-corruption functions, as well as proposals for the further institutional strengthening of the Special Investigation Service and the Personal Data Protection Service.The composition of the working group will include Parliament deputies from all parliamentary parties as well as representatives of the Administration of the Government, the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Security Service, and the civil sector.The relevant draft laws will be submitted to the Parliament as initiatives no later than 19 October and they will be adopted by the Parliament by 1 December.Item 5. De-oligarchizationA working group will be created under the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia that will include representatives of all parliamentary parties as well as the civil sector. The working group will work on a draft law on de-oligarchization, which will be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia as an initiative no later than 5 October and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 29 November.Item 6. Combating organized crime and the oversight of law enforcementA working group will be created under the Defense and Security Committee of the Parliament that will include Parliament deputies from all parliamentary parties as well as representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, the High Council of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Security Service, and the civil sector.By 1 November, the working group will prepare an in-depth assessment of the current situation and develop proposals to remedy shortcomings and further strengthen the fight against organized crime.Items 7 and 8. Ensuring an appropriate media environment, the effective investigation of crimes targeting journalists, and effective response to violence against vulnerable groupsThe Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament, in cooperation with the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, will ensure the public availability of information about the investigation of all relevant cases.Item 9. Gender equality and violence against womenThe Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia and the Gender Equality Council will actively work toward preparing legislative proposals to promote gender equality and ensure an even more effective fight against violence targeting women.The relevant package of draft laws will be submitted to the Parliament as an initiative no later than 5 October and will be adopted by the Parliament no later than 15 November.Item 10. The involvement of civil society in the decision-making processThe chairman of the Parliament of Georgia will coordinate the effective involvement of civil society representatives in all processes related to the fulfilment of the European Union’s conditions. Additionally, effective mechanisms of involvement will be retained even after the completion of work on the European Union’s conditions.Item 11. Proactive consideration of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg by the Georgian courtTaking into account the enforcement procedures of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia will prepare the relevant draft law and submit it to the Parliament as an initiative by 1 September. The Parliament will consider and adopt the draft law no later than 18 October.Item 12. Election of the public defenderThe parliamentary majority will offer the parliamentary opposition an inclusive procedure for the selection of candidates for the position of public defender until 1 September. This should ensure the nomination of an individual who will be equally acceptable to the majority and the opposition and, accordingly, who will be elected to the position of public defender with a high level of legitimacy. Voting to elect the public defender will take place no later than 1 December.We would like to remind you that the election of the public defender requires the support of at least 90 Parliament deputies. Therefore, ensuring that the public defender is elected in line with the European Union’s conditions is equally the responsibility of both the ruling team and the opposition.
Politics • 1656687840
U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan Friday echoed reports about altercation during U.S. Independence Day reception, saying “we’re a little disappointed that these reports overshadowed what was otherwise a very positive and happy celebration of America’s Independence Day.”Ambassador Degnan stressed, “the violence is unacceptable, particularly when there’s been a pattern of attacks against media representatives.”“We’re looking into the reports. We’re not aware that any formal legal process has started yet, but certainly, violence is unacceptable, particularly when there’s been a pattern of attacks against media representatives. We’re also concerned about the reports of violence in the regions against political representatives regarding the right of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression. We’re seeing violence being brought in to infringe, suppress, deny people their constitutional rights under Georgia’s constitution. It’s very concerning. It’s also disappointing.We had a terrific event last night to celebrate America’s Independence Day, and it was a very positive event, bringing together Georgians, emphasizing how much Georgia can do when Georgians work together, unified for the European future of this country. So, we’re a little disappointed that these reports overshadowed what was otherwise a very positive and happy celebration of America’s Independence Day,” she asserted.The remark follows allegations by Vato Tsereteli, the founder of the TV Pirveli channel, who accused the ruling Georgian Dream party lawmakers Anri Okhanashvili, Beka Odisharia, Irakli Zarkua and Levan Mgaloblishvili of physically assaulting him on the territory of the Embassy.GD’s Anri Okhanashvili calls those allegations “dirtiest provocation,” while Irakli Zarkua deemed it “pre-planned provocation.”
Politics • 1656680760
Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Head of the Parliamentary Delegation to OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Nikoloz Samkharadze and Chairperson of the European Integration Committee, Maka Bochorishvili will take part in the OSCE PA Annual Session.The session participants will hold debates about security, economy, environment protection, science and technologies, democracy, human rights and humanitarian issues. They will discuss facing threats and the war in Ukraine.Georgian parliamentary delegation members plan to hold bilateral meetings.The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 29th Annual Session will take place in Birmingham on July, 2-6.
Politics • 1656666418
Ambassador of Georgia to France Thea Katukia resigned. The statement about this is spread by Katukia Facebook itself. Katukia was appointed the ambassador of Georgia to France in 2019. In the statement published today, he notes that political pressure was exerted on him from the very first day of his appointment."Dear compatriots, dear friends,Today I am leaving the position of Ambassador of Georgia to the Republic of France. On May 1, I submitted my resignation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, which became effective today, July 1.I would like to thank the President of Georgia, Mrs. Salome Zurabishvili, for the trust she expressed in me in 2019 by presenting my candidacy for the position of ambassador.For me, the mentioned position was connected only with great responsibility. During the fulfillment of the assigned mandate, my goal was to protect the interests of Georgia to the maximum, without political bias, and to bring our country closer to France and the European Union.My decision to resign was preceded by constant pressure from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on me from the first day of my appointment to the position of ambassador.Considering that I have spent the last 25 years in France and I have French citizenship, I did not think that my professional path abroad and my political impartiality would be unacceptable to the Georgian government.From the very first day, I witnessed a number of serious violations and structural malfunctions in the embassy, which significantly harmed the interests and image of the Georgian representation in France. I could never have imagined that I would have to perform the function in the context of constant abuse, slander, pressure, harassment and threats, which originates from deep-rooted clan and clientelistic practices in the system, which contradict the values I uphold and the goals and aspirations I have for Georgia.I deeply believe that the above-mentioned actions, which are unacceptable for a legal state, do not reflect the reality of Georgian society. The aspirations of our society are based on the values of freedom and justice - those values which are fundamental and indivisible for every citizen of Georgia, and which impose on us the obligation of unity and responsibility.The mentioned situation did not prevent me from fulfilling the assigned mission, of course, at the cost of great personal efforts and under the conditions of significant limitation of activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During my mandate in Manila, I firmly continued to defend Georgia's European future with decision-makers in France. The mentioned mission was and is carrying a special load considering that today our country is at an important stage of history.Today, the European future of our country and its democratic development depends solely on the political choice of the Georgian government. In this crucial context, significant staffing and structural problems, as I myself have witnessed and faced by the diplomatic service of Georgia, prevent the country from pursuing an effective foreign policy in response to the challenges facing us.If I leave the function of ambassador today, my eyes will not leave Georgia, even in the new professional stage, I will continue to take care of the country's political and democratic development and spare no effort to make Georgia's move towards the European Union and, in general, towards democratic, progressive and tolerant values, irreversible," the former ambassador said in a statement.
Politics • 1656666344