Pressure on Adjara Television Continues
The decision of Nata Imedashvili, head of Information Service of Adjara TV Company to resign, which according to her, was caused by pressure from within the company, is a clear example of the free media being under serious pressure in this region, along with the restriction of freedom of speech. Representatives of local media consider mass media in Adjara to be subject to strict censorship, with the work of journalists strictly controlled by their managers. The journalists of Adjara TV Company do not point to the government as exerting pressure on them, but instead blame Zaza Khalvashi, former head of the TV Company, in practicing censorship. While Adjara TV Company now has a new director, NGOs continue to highlight the existence of censorship and pressure directed towards television. The new director refused to restore Nata Imedashvili to the position of the head of the Information Service in order to avoid confrontation in the TV Company, although Ms. Imedashvili denies that there is any danger of confrontation.
Evidence of the pressure within Adjara TV Company was revealed after Nata Imedashvili, the head of Information Service, resigned as a sign of protest and named the pressure exercised by Zaza Khalvashi, Head of the TV Company, as the motivating factor for her resignation. According to her, all information to potentially be presented on the company’s news programs was subject to censorship.
Following her resignation, 12 journalists resigned in protest and organized a protest march demanding the resignation of Zaza Khalvashi.
Levan Varshalomidze, Chairman of the Adjara Government, has laid all the responsibility on Zaza Khalvashi. Since then, Khalvashi has resigned and has been replaced by Evgeni Tavdgiridze, former correspondent of Radio Liberty.
Despite the fact that Adjara TV Company has a new director, NGOs continue to speak about censorship and the exertion of pressure within the TV Company. Mr. Tavdgiridze refused to restore Nata Imedashvili to the position of the head of the Information Service, claiming that this was because he wished to avoid confrontation within the company. In an interview with Human Rights Information and Documentation Center Nata Imedashvili stated that she did not think there would be any danger of confrontation with the journalists, though she does not regret her decision to resign.
According to Nata Imedashvili she will soon appear before the public in a new role, as the presenter on her own programme. The new programme has already been prepared and will appear on TV in April.