TBILISI, DFWatch – A journalist working for Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB) is under threat of being dismissed for asking a question the government didn’t like at Bidzina Ivanishvili’s press conference Tuesday.
The reason was that he asked a question which the broadcaster’s leadership thinks is an admission that their journalists are instructed by the government about what questions to ask.
DFWatch have this from a source within the public broadcaster who has asked us not to divulge the person’s identity out of fear that it might also lead to him or her being dismissed.
At the press conference two days ago, Irakli Tabliashvili asked a question about Georgian troops’ participation in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan. As he was about to get to his question, Tabliashvili prephrased it with the phrase: “I represent the Public Broadcaster, but I assure you that I don’t have ‘instructed question.’ I’m interested in what the public is interested in.” Then he went on to ask what Ivanishvili thinks about the Georgian contingent participating in ISAF.
What triggered the disciplinary action was that the GPB leadership didn’t like how he prephrased the question, because they think Mr Tabliashvili thereby admitted that all the questions asked by the other journalists have been agreed with the government, according to our source.
Tabliashvili was summoned to Gia Chanturia, the GPB director, and Levan Gakheladze, board chairman, and the three of them deliberated the incident behind closed doors. They did not disclose what had been discussed at the meeting.
Chairman Gakheladze says this account is not true.
When we called Tabliashvili for the comment he only said: “At this stage I am still an employee of the public broadcaster.”
But according to our information there are ongoing negotiations between the GPB leadership and the journalist about his dismissal. The fact that Tabliashvili wants to keep this information secret is consistent with the fact this is now being negotiated, our source claims.
Irakli Tabliashvili works as an editor of a monthly program called Broadcaster, aired on GPB’s First Channel, one of three national TV channels in Georgia.