Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) board of trustees sacked GPB’s director general Giorgi Baratashvili on March 4, two months after it elected him on this post.
Board’s decision came few days after Baratashvili fired head of newsroom of GPB’s First Channel, Khatuna Berdzenishvili. After she was sacked, Berdzenishvili accused Baratashvili of meddling in editorial policy; at a news conference on March 1 she claimed that she was sacked because of not yielding to pressure from Baratashvili to provide news coverage favorable for PM Ivanishvili’s government. Baratashvili denied allegations on the same day and said that Berdzenishvili was dismissed because of “reorganization”, but instead offered her one-year contract on the position of his advisor for political programs.
GPB’s board of trustees gathered on March 4 to listen to both Berdzenishvili and Baratashvili behind the closed doors after which board chairman Levan Gakheladze announced that the decision was made to dismiss Baratashvili.
In its statement the board indicated that the reason behind its decision was not that Baratashvili decided to sack head of the newsroom – board has no authority to interfere with general director’s staff-related decision, but the failure to prevent “a crisis situation”, which put GPB in the center of “political speculations and insinuations”.
The board, which the critics have long been accusing of a failure to provide proper oversight over developments within the broadcaster, also said that “creating such a crisis situation amid multilateral pressure on the broadcaster is irresponsible.”
Baratashvili, who is not currently in Georgia and spoke with board members via Skype on March 4, said that he was surprised by the board’s decision; he also said that the board should explain what it means by “creating crisis situation.”