Six Imedi TV journalists have quit the station following allegations that presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili, the station's founder, is plotting a coup.
All six reporters were working for Imedi TV’s popular weekly Droeba (Times) program hosted by Giorgi Targamadze, head of the station’s political programs.
“We are very proud of the years we spent working in Droeba,” journalist Rusudan Tskhomelidze said on December 26 in a written statement on behalf of the six reporters. “None of us has ever acted under pressure or orders from anyone. Throughout the years we have enjoyed total freedom thanks to our team and particularly to the head of Imedi TV’s political programs, Giorgi Targamadze.”
“Actions undertaken by the authorities against Imedi TV on November 7 [when the station was shut down in a police raid] were absolutely unacceptable for us, but at the same time processes that have developed in recent days are also absolutely unacceptable. Because Badri Patarkatsishvili ... has been at the center of recent developments, it is unacceptable for us to continue working in Imedi TV, because even our journalistic freedom can now be misused. For that reason we are quitting Imedi TV. We ask you not to give any political interpretation to our decision.”
In a video message to Imedi TV staff on December 25 Patarkatsishvili said that recently he had observed, what he called, “self-restraint” among Imedi journalists. “I want to advice you: be as free as you have always been and do not restrain yourself, do not be afraid of the authorities,” Patarkatsishvili said.
Imedi TV’s rival television station, Rustavi 2, said after airing this message late last night that Patarkatsishvili had made the appeal knowing that some Imedi TV journalists were about to resign.