Rustavi 2 TV channel skips newscast in protest of recent personnel dismissals

None of the journalists have agreed to host the daily newscast programme. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 21 Aug 2019 - 15:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian TV channel Rustavi 2 did not broadcast a newscast today during its 12:00 programme, and instead ran a film.

Radio Liberty reports that Rustavi 2 journalists did not agree to host the newscast after the channel Director General Paata Salia unexpectedly dismissed head of information service Nodar Meladze, producer Giorgi Laperashvili and TV anchors Eka Kvesitadze, Giorgi Gabunia and Nanuka Zhorzholiani on August 20.

Rustavi 2 journalists say their freedom of speech is restricted at the channel under its new administration and this is why they refuse to work.

The anchors of the newscast Kurieri Diana Jojua and Mikheil Sesiashvili quit while on air yesterday. They announced their decision at 21:00 when the main newscast of the day began.

Kurieri did not broadcast this morning, nor has the TV company news website has been updated since last night.

Rustavi 2 channel owner Kibar Khalvashi, who recently regained 100% shares of the channel, said the developments were ‘not a surprise.’

Georgian MP Giorgi Volski said that Rustavi 2 is a TV channel critical of the government, but rather a TV channel that is loyal to one party.

The history of the ownership of Rustavi 2 is rather bumpy: 

  •          Established in 1994, the broadcasting company changed ownership 20 times between 2004 and 2012.
  •         In March 2017 Georgia’s Supreme Court delivered a verdict in favor of its former shareholder [2004-2006) Kibar Khalvashi, who had filed a lawsuit in 2015.
  •         A few days later the European Court of Human Rights suspended the enforcement of the Georgian Supreme Court’s verdict.
  •          On July 18, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights upheld verdicts of Georgian courts on Rustavi 2 ownership case and said the TV belongs to former owner Kibar Khalvashi
  •         Kibar Khalvashi dismissed Rustavi 2 Director General Nika Gvaramia afterwards and appointed his lawyer Paata Salia instead.