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Public Servants are Employed at Adjara TV-Radio Company

February 26, 2013
Meri Emiridze, Batumi,  

“I am doing this program for my spiritual world,” said Maka Ivanishvili, advisor to the chair of Adjara government clarifying the goal of her author program. The program Talks with Maka Ivanishvili first appeared on air two weeks ago. The program is oriented on culture and is free from politics, says the author.

 Prior to the Parliamentary Elections 2012 Maka Ivanishvili used to work as a head of Adjara press service of Bidzina Ivanishvili, in the aftermath of elections she was appointed advisor to Adjara government chairman Archil Khabadze.

Reporting to Media.Ge Ivanishvili clarified that she started working for the radio for the personal pleasure.

“As a public servant my salary amounts to GEL 1,000, and I work here as a volunteer. I am a journalist and I love this job. My lawyer said I, as a public servant, enjoy a right to work as a journalist in the field of culture,” said Ivanishvili.

Soso Sturua, head of Adjara TV-Radio department says he does not any problem with Ivanishvili’s employment at the radio since she works for the pilot program as a volunteer. 
“You can announce that if anyone wants to offer projects and volunteer in producing programs we have nothing against that. We are short of budget to do anything else,” Sturua said. 

Together with Maka Ivanishvili there are two more public servants, in particular Zviad Sirabidze and Miniko Beridze, consultants at the press service of the Constitutional Court of Georgia are employed at Adjara TV. Two day ago Zviad Sirabidze was appointed General Producer of the channel. Sirabidze is the author and host of the program Projection. Journalist Miniko Beridze has been the hostess of the morning program Morning Wave. Beridze started working at the Constitutional Court of Georgia few months ago.

“I am contractually employed as a consultant to the press service of the Constitutional Court of Georgia and host Morning Wave twice per week. As far as I am concerned as a public servant I have a right to do creative work at the television,” said Beridze.

Zviad Sirabidze provided similar substantiation: “Since I am doing both jobs, I work 24/7 and I have a right to do some creative work.” 

Gia Kartsivadze, head of Batumi bureau of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) said public servants have a legal right to work at media outlets but in case of Adjara TV-Radio department we have a different issue in place. Under the circumstances in legal terms Adjara TV and Radio is a governmental department, hence a public agency. According to Part 1, Article 64 of the Georgian Law on Public Service public servants are restricted to simultaneously get paid at two public agencies.

“In case a public official gets salary at a certain State agency s/he is restricted to accept remuneration at another State institution. When Adjara TV-Radio department is transformed into regional public broadcaster the State servants will then have a right to have jobs there,” Gia Kartsivadze clarified. 

Lawyer Irine Urushadze, head of Batumi branch of Transparency International Georgia stressed two problems in relation to State servants employment in media. The cases of the kind, she clarified, firstly arise questions over the impartiality of a certain journalist, and secondly they denote to government’s control over media. According to Urushadze of Adjara TV and Radio is very special due to it status.

“Along with radio I have heard of State Servants’ employment at Adjara television that receive remuneration. Two – legal and expediency - problems arise here. Legal – since it’s a breach of  Law of Pubic Service and expediency – since it’s expedient to have public servant employed at media outlet,” Urushadze clarified.

By now the applicable Law on Pubic Service restricts public servants employed at Adjara television to receive salaries since they happen to simultaneously work at two public agencies. FYI, prior to granting status to Adjara TV-Radio department it will be considered as public service.