Who are the newly-elected members of the Communications Commission?
Ekaterine Imedadze and Natia Kukuladze were elected as two new members of the Georgian National Communications Commission for a term of 6 years. Both of them are current employees of the regulator. Vacancies appeared after the term of office of the former commissioners Eliso Asanidze and Merab Katamadze expired.
Two of the six candidates, selected by the government and nominated by the president, were backed by the Georgian parliament. Initially, 12 persons expressed their desire to be commissioners, but eventually, 6 candidates were presented to the parliament, of which 5 were current members of the National Communications Commission and one was a former employee.
Competition for vacant positions was not high, despite the fact that the remuneration of commissioners is one of the most attractive in the country. According to the asset declarations of 2020, the average monthly earning of a commissioner exceeds GEL 15 thousand.
The National Communications Commission is a regulatory body in the field of electronic communications and broadcasting, which, according to the law, must be independent in its activities. However, the Commission has repeatedly been criticized for its biased decisions and controversial initiatives aimed at restricting critical opinion in the country.
What we know about newly-elected commissioners and candidates
- New Commissioners
Ekaterine Imedadze – Current employee of the National Communications Commission, who has been the Head of the Telecommunications Market Regulation Department since 2019. Prior to joining the regulatory body, she has worked in various positions at the mobile company Beeline for more than ten years. She has held the position of Financial Manager / Consultant at private companies such as UGT and C&F Co. She holds an MBA degree from Bradford University.
Natia Kukuladze – Current employee of the National Communications Commission. From 2019, she held the position of the Head of the Media Literacy Development Department. She has also worked as the Head of Strategic Communication Department / Division at the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and the Government Administration (2016-2019). Kukuladze has also held the positions of Director of the Marketing, Sales and Feedback Department and Deputy Chairman at the Public Service Development Agency. She holds an MBA Degree from the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA).
- Other candidates
Ivane Makharadze (candidate) – Current employee of the National Communications Commission, who has been heading the Audio-Visual Media Services Regulation Department since 2013. Ivane Makharadze has held various positions at the regulatory body since 2007. He graduated from Tbilisi State University, the Faculty of International Law and Relations, and holds a Master's degree in European Law from the European Institute of the University of Saarland.
Irakli Butbaia (candidate) – Current employee of the National Communications Commission, who has been the Head of the Legal Department since 2019. For various periods, Butbaia has held the position of the Head of the Legal Division and Senior Lawyer at the Service Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and LEPL "Enterprise Georgia". He was a Chief Specialist at the General Inspectorate of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. He graduated from Tbilisi State University with a bachelor's and master's degree in law.
Olia Watt (candidate) – Current employee of the National Communications Commission. In 2018-2019, she held the position of the Head of Quality and Internal Audit Service and is currently the Head of Administration. For years, she has served as Executive and Operating Director at Policy and Management Consulting Group (PMCG). She has worked as a project, branch, and regional coordinator for the NGO Association of Young Economists Georgia. She holds an MBA Degree from the Central European University.
Tamar Chelidze (candidate) – She was the only candidate who was not an acting employee of the regulator, although in 2015-2020 Chelidze has held various positions in the commission, including the Head of Quality Management and Internal Audit Service. Tamar Chelidze is the founder and board member of the Electronic Research and Development Center, and in 2010-2011 held the position of Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development. Tamar Chelidze has worked as the Head of Legal Services at ProCredit Bank and has been a lawyer at the Legal Department of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. She graduated from Tbilisi State University, the Faculty of International Law and International Relations, and holds a Master's degree in Law and Legal Systems from the University of Connecticut.