TBILISI, DFWatch–A day after Rustavi 2’s new owner laid out his plans to revamp Georgia’s biggest opposition TV company, the newly appointed director sacks several of its key journalists.
The list outlined on Tuesday by Paata Salia, Rustavi 2’s new director, includes the head of its news division Nodar Melia, and news anchor Giorgi Gabunia, known for his nasty remarks against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Popular anchors, such as Nanuka Jorjoliani and Eka Kvesitadze, have also been fired.
Paata Salia, Rustavi 2 owner Kibar Khalvashi’s former lawyer, said that all had been fired because their conduct and statements contradict Rustavi 2’s interests, as they feel themselves members of the team of Nika Gvaramia, the company’s former director. Salia also accused some of them of improper conduct with the company’s finances.
Rustavi 2’s journalists called the process a “purge”. Nodar Meladze said that two weeks after Kibar Khalvashi’s takeover, he was approached by a messenger of a person close to GD party leader Bidzina Ivanishvili and offered a collaboration, which he declined.
Salia offered Rustavi 2’s news staff to make a choice: either to stay with the channel or leave it.
Meanwhile, the TV company’s former director Nika Gvaramia called upon his former colleagues to leave Rustavi 2 en masse and join him with his media venture, TV channel Mtavari Arkhi (“Main Channel”).
Rustavi 2’s main news program Kurieri suspended its broadcasting while on air. One of the anchors, Diana Jojua, said that she can’t work on a channel which belongs to “Kremlins main stooge in the country”. Earlier, Rustavi 2’s director fired the news chief and all key journalists.