Imprisonment of Nika Gvaramia: Protest and International Reaction

Protesters in support of Nika Gvaramia, the General Director of the government critical “Mtavari TV”, marched from the vicinity of the Parliament to the office of the “Mtavari TV” on May 18. The protesters demanded the release of Nika Gvaramia. The rally in support of Gvaramia was organized by media managers and journalists of critical TV channels.

International human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the arrest of Nika Gvaramia, director of the “Mtavari TV”.

“Nika Gvaramia’s verdict is a clear act of politically motivated persecution in response to his differing views and criticism of [Georgian] authorities,” Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Marie Strutters said on May 17.

On the arrest of Nika Gvaramia on May 19, the statement was made by the State Department. US State Department spokesman, Ned Price said the United States would continue to “strongly support independent media, whether in Georgia or elsewhere in the world.” 

“When it comes to media freedom, you know that we are constantly talking about the need for a free, independent media, we are clearly and sincerely stating with our Georgian partners that we need to continue to strengthen the foundations of democracy,” he said. “As well as the rule of law. “

Nikoloz Samkharadze, a Georgian Dream lawmaker and chairman of the Georgian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, on May 19, said that the MEPs’ response to the imprisonment of Nika Gvaramia, director of the Mtavari TV, was “biased.” 

Following the arrest of Nika Gvaramia, eight MEPs issued a critical letter saying that the “unfounded” verdict against Gvaramia “poses a serious threat to Georgia’s European future, which calls for democratic values, including media freedom and the rule of law.”

The joint etter is signed by: MEPs – Michael Gahler,  Andrius Kubilius, Sven Mikser, Raphaël Glucksmann, Anna Fotyga, Markéta Gregorová, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel and Petras Auštrevičius.

Tea Tsulukiani criticizes MEPs and former US ambassador

Georgian Minister of Culture Tea Tsulukiani criticized some international observers, including MEPs Viola von Cramon and Anna Fotiga, as well as former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly, as “foreign members of UNM.” Who want to overthrow the government.

“This is a small group of foreigners, I mean, for example, the German politician who has turned into a Georgian politician, Ms Viola von Cramon, who [Cramon], I think, no longer has so much to do in her constituency and directly interferes in Georgian politics.”

According to her, Von Cramon, “due to her friendship with the UNM”  is “not very worried about the Georgian people” and she is ready to openly insult the Georgian MP in order tosupport her friends .

After that, Tea Tsulukiani criticized the Polish MEP, Anna Fotiga, when she rebukes something, “she will come out and say – no, I love Georgia. It depends on how people think about Georgia. In the same way Russians also meant Khachapuri when talking about Georgia, but Georgia is not Khachapuri or beautiful Svaneti, Georgia, first of all, is a nation that should be respected,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

Tsulukiani also criticized the former US ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly. “I remember very well how he did not like Georgia,” she said.

According to Tsulukiani, Ian Kelly “does not shy away from insulting, criticizing and pointing the finger at the Georgian nation and its government several times a day, as if we were zero-grade students. We must prevent it together”.

In response to the member of Georgian government , Viola von Cramon tweeted: “Ms Tsulukiani knows best that I was and am one of the biggest critics of Saakashvili’s regime … I’ve been a friend of Georgia (NOT its governments) for many years, back then I was taught Georgian wisdom : “criticize your friends to their faces and your foes behind their backs “. 

“It’s time for the Georgian Dream to learn how to handle the criticism and truth instead of throwing tantrums.” Viola von Cramon concluded.

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