Former director general of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Giorgi Baratashvili, who was fired by GPB’s board in early March, won a court case in which he claimed that he was wrongfully dismissed.
In its ruling on April 15 the Tbilisi City Court invalidated March 4 decision of GPB’s board of trustees dismissing director general and ruled Baratashvili should be returned to his job; the court also ordered GPB to pay Baratashvili his salary of GEL 5,500 per month for the entire period of his absence from job for a wrongful dismissal.
The main argument, cited in Baratashvili’s lawsuit in support for motion to invalidate BPB board’s decision, was a claim according to which the decision on dismissal was voted by the board with lack of required quorum.
It was not immediately clear whether GPB would take the ruling to the Court of Appeals, which can be done within next two weeks.
Board’s decision to sack Baratashvili on March 4 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; 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 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. Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, appointed on April 1 former director of newsroom of the GPB’s First Channel as head of capital city’s Krtsanisi district.
GPB’s 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”.