TBILISI, DFWatch — The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has decided to finance media and non-government organizations and issued a special decree December 17, 2012.

A program to contribute to the civil sector and development of free media will be established, according to the decree. The goal is to develop the civil sector and increase the role of free media in Georgia.

The decree has been published on the website of the law gazette, which means that it is already in force.

It defines the steps for how to implement the initiative. The first step is to set up a commission which will select an organization to implement the project. The president’s decree lists the names of commission members, which are five advisors to the president, including the former deputy foreign affairs minister and former economy minister.

Another step is to hold a competition in order to select a non-commercial legal person, which will implement the program.

The commission will announce a competition with terms and conditions.

One million lari, or USD 600 000, will be allocated to give grants to media outlets or organizations that are chosed to be included in the program. The money will be allocated from the president’s reserve fund.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishivli on Tuesday said it is ridiculous that the president is suddenly transformed into a protector of media and mentioned the fate of Imedi TV as an example of the situation in the media.