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Head of News Room at 1st Channel Curses and Threatens Journalists

March 25, 2009

Non-governmental organization Human Rights Center blames Khatuna Berdzenishvili, head of news room at the 1st channel, for cursing and oppressing journalists. According to the statement of the center, today, on March 25, Khatuna Berdzenishvili called Gela Mtivlishvili, journalist for the on-line newspaper of the Human Rights Center, from the phone number 822 409 180 and blamed him for having spread fraud information. Berdzenishvili accused him for corruption and threatened with creating problems unless he stopped similar activities.

“She told me “I am Khatuna Berdzenishvili, you should know who I am”. I replied I knew who she was. Then she started shouting at me and demanded to explain to me why I had spread information on the previous day where I blamed 1st Channel for blocking the TV release about the seizure of private properties in Sighnaghi. Although I was not obliged to give explanations to Berdzenishvili, I told her that owners of private properties had applied to us and lawyers for the Human Rights Center protected their rights. Berdzenishvili was not listening to me. “Why are you spreading similar information everyday; for how long are you going to earn money from such activities?” she shouted at me. I told her she was not my editor and I could publish whatever I considered necessary. I demanded her to produce evidences to prove her accusations. Berdzenishvili got even more irritated at my words. “If you do not stop your activities, you will lose your job and will face some other problems too,” she shouted at me and cut off the line.”

“I do not care who protects Berdzenishvili. Her impudence, oppression and threatening is absolutely unacceptable for me. Such unbalanced and aggressive person should not be head of news room at any TV Company; especially at the public broadcasting,” said journalist Gela Mtivlishvili.

It must be pointed out that short time ago, when Khatuna Berdzenishvili was appointed as a head of news room at the 1st Channel, experienced journalists Nika Metreveli, Misha Vardzelashvili, Shorena Tskhovrebashvili, Maka Chikhladze, Nino Shurghaia, Nino Kalandia and Sopo Kvintradze were fired from the 1st Channel.

Levan Kubaneishvili, director general of the 1st Channel, stated that journalists were dismissed after their labor contracts expired. However, according to the Human Rights Center the TV Channel breached the Code of Labor when firing those correspondents. Besides that, most of them have not received the resolution on dismissal from the job yet.

According to our information the journalists who still continue working at the 1st Channel have to work in unbearable conditions. Khatuna Berdzenishvili calls them stupid, insults them verbally and sometimes tries to beat them too.

Correspondents of the news room cannot complain about these facts. Misha Vardzelashvili, one of the dismissed journalists, stated in his interview with the newspaper “Resonance: “I personally did not have any connection with Berdzenishvili. I knew her from the TV Company “9th Channel”; but when she came to our company on January 6 I left it. As for her relationship with other journalists, many correspondents complain about her insulting phrase, shouting and some other abuses. She calls ignorant to those people who have been working as journalists for a long time. She expresses her opinions in a very nasty manner; shouting and screaming is ordinary manner of relationship for her. Berdzenishvili often threatens journalists with dragging them with hair. I was informed about these facts from some people who are my friends at the company and I trust them. I do not doubt that they have told the truth to me.”

Khatuna Berdzenishvili does not comment on the abovementioned facts.

Source: Human Rights Center