Media alarmed by jailing of TV chief –

Independent Georgian online media Publika and Netgazeti, as well as the Georgian Alliance of Regional Broadcasters, uniting dozens of regional media outlets, called the prison sentence of Nika Gvaramia, head of the Mtavari Arkhi TV channel, critical for the government , a “politically motivated movement” that threatens the independent media. and critical media.

Netgazeti, alongside Batumi-based partner Batumelebi, on May 16 dubbed Gvaramia’s imprisonment “particularly alarming” and a threat to any journalist and media that “does not obey government censorship and criticizes its activities…”

Netgazeti said Gvaramia’s imprisonment was a “logical but chilling continuation of the repressive policy pursued by the Georgian authorities in recent years against the media that escapes their control”.

The outlet cited unchecked homophobic violence on July 5, 2021, which left more than 50 journalists attacked, critical media statements from the ruling Georgian Dream party, authorities ‘providing less public information’ and restricting the participation of critical journalists in various events, among the lingering issues, which led to the sentence jail for the head of opposition television.

For its part, on Mon 18, the editorial staff of Publika proclaimed that “the actions of the prosecution and the court do not serve justice, but a political motive, which is an attempt to silence the media undesirable for the government”.

“Over the years, the government has moved step by step down a path that we can boldly call a declared chronicle of the struggle against the media,” Publika noted.

45 regional media outlets united by the Georgian Alliance of Regional Broadcasters also condemned the court’s decision, saying it is inadmissible to convict the head of a media outlet for a management decision under the criminal code.

Nika Gvaramia, a former manager of Rustavi 2 TV who later established Mtavari Arkhi TV, was convicted on May 16 of abuse of power while running Rustavi 2 TV.

A fierce critic of the Georgian Dream government and ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, he denies the accusations as politically motivated.

Journalists organized a May 18 rally in support that started in Republic Square and moved to Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi.

Media freedom concerns have grown steadily in the country, with Georgia ranking dramatically decline from 60th place in 2021 to 89th in 2022 according to Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based press freedom watchdog.

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