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Georgian parliament strips four journalists of accreditations

6 June 2024
Photo: Parliament of Georgia.

Georgian Dream has stripped four TV reporters from government–critical channels of their accreditation in less than a week, effectively barring the channels from covering parliamentary sessions.

Parliament revoked the accreditations of two TV Pirveli journalists, a journalist from Formula, and another from Mtavari Arkhi for violating regulations introduced by Parliamentary Speaker Shalva Papashvili last year.

The regulations, referred to as a  ‘code of conduct’, allow the authorities to strip journalists of their parliamentary accreditation for pressing MPs who refuse to answer their questions, as well as for other violations.

Journalists who have their parliamentary accreditation revoked cannot be replaced by another journalist from the same media outlet.

TV Pirveli reported on Wednesday that two of their journalists, Nata Kajaia and Maka Chikhladze, had their parliamentary accreditation revoked for a month.

Chikhladze was suspended from covering parliament at the request of majority MP Guram Macharashvili. The MP reportedly called for Chikhladze’s suspension because he had refused to answer her questions, despite consenting to an interview.

Chikhladze had asked Macharashvili about Vivian Ivanishvili, the daughter of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire founder and honourary chair of Georgian Dream. Vivian Ivanishvili is believed to reside in the US.


[Read more: Ivanishvili touts conspiracy theories at massive pro-government rally in Tbilisi]

Last month, the US announced its plans to impose travel and financial sanctions against individuals involved in the foreign agent law and their families. Washington has yet to reveal who they intend to sanction.

Parliament has claimed that Macharashvili had not consented to speaking on record, and that they banned Chikhladze for refusing to stop recording him.

Parliament stripped Kajaia of her accreditation at the request of Georgian Dream MP Sozar Subari, who also claimed that the journalist was recording him despite not consenting to be interviewed.

Both Subari and Macharashvili are members of People’s Power, a Georgian Dream satellite parliamentary group.

Nodar Meladze, a senior producer at Pirveli, wrote on Facebook that the TV channel had only received parliament’s notice about Kajaia’s suspensions 10 days after the fact.

‘Repressive rules approved by the speaker of parliament are misused by the MPs, which have already created dangerous precedents’, he stated.

The two Pirveli reporters were the latest journalists to have their accreditation revoked in less than a week; Georgian Dream MP and vice speaker Nino Tsilosani had earlier requested that Formula journalist Sopo Gozalishvili and Mtavari Arkhi’s Nino Balanchivadze be barred from covering sessions.

Gozalishvili was banned from covering parliament for six months.

RFE/RL has reported that Gozalishvili was banned for pressing Tsilosani for comments despite her refusal.

Balanchivadze was working on a report about expected US travel sanctions on Georgian Dream officials or MPs who voted for the foreign agent law. Tsilosani told the journalist that she would submit an application to have her ‘sanctioned’.

[Read more: Reports emerge of US visa revocations over Georgia foreign agent law]

Tsilosani recently made headlines after pressing charges against Data Kuprava, a citizen who shouted ‘traitor’ at her, of stalking her.

After being questioned at court on Wednesday, Kuprava told Formula that he intended to sue Tsilosani over false accusations.

‘This is a campaign of intimidation that representatives of Georgian Dream have been carrying out for a long time’, said Kuprava.

‘I am going to file a statement with the police and the prosecutor’s office that she [Tsilosani] has falsely accused me on a false charge. Although I have no hope that anyone will punish or reprimand Nino Tsilosani’.

The bans came after Papuashvili indefinitely barred online media from covering parliamentary sessions, allowing only TV reporters to enter the building.

The announcement was met with condemnation by the Charter of Journalistic Ethics, which stated that the Georgian Dream-led parliament was using its rules as a ‘punitive tool against critical media’.

‘The charter calls on the chair of the parliament to refuse to use the [regulations] as an instrument of revenge against journalists’.

Read in Armenian on CivilNet.
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