TV Producer Says Sacked for Criticizing Government over Pankisi Clashes

Maia Stepnadze, former producer of Imedi TV’s “Skhva Rakursi” show (The Other Angle), claims she was fired from the channel for criticizing the Government over the Pankisi Gorge clashes on April 21.

Stepnadze says the TV Director Giorgi Kalandarishvili summoned her on April 24, three days after she posted a Facebook post slamming the authorities for their “imprudent policy” concerning the issue.

“Kalandarishvili told me directly that they were dismissing me because of my Facebook status… this is an outright censorship; they dismissed me because I dared to express my opinion openly,” she wrote.

Imedi TV commented on the matter on May 2. In a brief statement to Rustavi 2 TV, Salome Bazerashvili of the Human Resources Department said she was dismissed “on the basis of mutual agreement.”

Media watchdogs slammed the decision, with Nata Dzvelishvili of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics saying it is disappointing when “freedom of expression is violated by a media outlet itself.”

Stepnadze plans to challenge the decision in court. Transparency International Georgia, a Tbilisi-based CSO, said it is ready to defend her rights, “in order to protect other journalists against similar facts.”

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