Statement regarding the assault of Rustavi 2 journalists and illegal interference in their professional activities
Transparency International Georgia is responding to the fact of the assault and interference in the professional activity of the journalist and operator of “Rustavi 2“ by the representatives of the movement “No to Nazism” that is backed by the ruling party “Georgian Dream”. The incident took place in the office of the movement. According to the video footage disseminated by the broadcaster, the leader of the movement Nana Kakabadze got angry after the Rustavi 2 journalist asked questions about the funding of “No to Nazism”. Ms Kakabadze insulted the journalists and other persons physically forced the journalist and operator to leave the office. During the incident, the equipment owned by the broadcaster was also damaged.
Collecting information on election issues with the aim of disseminating it to the general public constitutes the matters of the public interest. Consequently, it is regrettable that the journalist and operator of Rustavi 2 were not able to perform their professional activity.
Any respondent has the right to refrain from answering uncomfortable and unacceptable questions raised by the media. However, this does not allow respondents to insult or assault journalists.
We welcome the fact that an investigation has been launched into this incident. It is essential however that the investigation be conducted in a fast and transparent manner, so that society will not have reason to doubt its objectivity. Each person who had interfered with journalists rights to perform their professional activities and caused the damage of their equipment should be held accountable.
It is also worth noting that this is not the first time that Rustavi 2 journalists have became subjects of insults and physical violence while performing their work. High officials’ aggressive rhetoric and insults towards the TV company and its journalists is quite common, which encourages aggression from society against Rustavi 2 journalists. Therefore, it is especially important that this case be given appropriate legal qualification and be investigated quickly.
Transparency International Georgia is ready to provide the Rustavi 2 journalist and operator with appropriate legal advice, should they wish for it.