TBILISI, DFWatch – Journalists, NGO representatives, politicians and other supporters Thursday gathered in front of the Maestro building to support the journalists and demanded the TV station’s journalists are allowed to continue doing their work.
The short rally began on at 15:00 and drew about forty protesters, many students and members of non-governmental organizations, blowing whistles to show their objection to the siege.
After a few minutes, Maestro journalists came out of the building and one of them, Tea Sichinava, read a statement on behalf of her colleagues addressing the crowd.
“We are still not fully allowed to continue working. We welcome the call to start negotiations between the founder Mamuka Glonti and Rustavi Media Management Company founder Eroski Kitsmarishvili,” the statement said.
The journalists ask them to start negotiations outside of the Maestro building and they demand that Erosi Kitsmarishvili and people who entered with him Wednesday leave the building.
“They interrupt our work, restrict our movements, the entrances to the second and third floors are blocked. It’s completely unacceptable for each of us working under such conditions, because, in our opinion, the editorial independence and objectivity cannot be maintained in this way.”
Shortly before the rally began, Erosi Kitsmarishvili made a statement saying that if Mamuka Glonti doesn’t open the doors, then he will try in any way to restore the normal work process in Maestro, meaning that he will open the closed doors with any necessary instrument.
Early Wednesday morning Erosi Kitsmarishvili broke into the Maestro building and fired two employees of the Company. As a result, the broadcast stopped for several hours. Maestro employees called for the police. According to Mamuka Glonti, upon arriving the police took orders from Kitsmarishvili and started not letting journalist enter the building.
Erosi Kitsmarishvili is still on the first floor Thursday afternoon. The entrances on the second and third floor are blocked. The journalists there have been locked inside for two days.
Eliso Chapidze, spokesperson for the press association, and journalist Nino Zuriashvili entered the Maestro building to suggest that the parties start negotiations and let the journalists continue their daily work.
(All photos: Mari Nikuradze.)