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Investigative committee faces battle for parliament approval

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, June 30
On June 29 the leader of Georgian Troupe MP Jondi Bagaturia initiated the creation of a parliamentary investigative commission working on media-related issues. Together with his 6 supporters Dimitri Lortkipanidze, Karlo Kopaliani, Tamaz Diasamidze, Gia Tsagareishvili, Petre Mamradze and Roman Marsagishvili the initiator started preparing a special petition on the protection of journalists’ rights in the name of the Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze.

As the initial subscribers of the document said at a briefing on Wednesday, the commission would study the cases of intimidation of the media by drawing its special attention to the violations of human rights in November 2007 and May 26, 2011. Dimitri Lortkipanidze thinks that the creation of the commission would be an important watershed not only with majority MPs but the rest of the opposition. The two abovementioned events were the examples of brutal attacks on Imedi TV journalists and the heavy handed dismissal of peaceful protesters by the special tasks groups. Hoping that they would be joined by other opposition and ruling United National Movement (UNM) members, the initiators of the commission worried that cases of intimidating the media haven’t been properly investigated and no one has been punished for this in the country yet.

“As a matter of fact we don’t only refer to pressure on media from the Government but each case of violation of journalists’ rights from any single oppositional figure would also be discussed by the commission,” Bagaturia said at the briefing. Negotiations with the opposition and Governmental spectrum have already started. Stressing the necessity for UNM MP’s participation in the process Bagaturia told The Messenger that their initiative won’t be simply a PR campaign but would be fully orientated on results. “We have started to introduce the initiative to NGOs and we still continue consultations. This is the case when even the raising of the question has a state importance and we really count on an objective investigation of the violations,” Bagaturia told us.

Journalist and media analyst Ia Antadze welcomed the “interesting initiative” but doubted that the UNM members would vote for the creation of the investigative commission. “Georgian Parliament is the exact place where such issues should be discussed but the current ruling team is less interested in reviewing such delicate issues. According to the fact that the majority of the MPs are UNM members, I doubt that they would encourage an oppositionists’ idea,” Antadze told us.

Political analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili also encouraged the initiative but he found implementation of the project to be nothing more than fantasy. Confident in sincere position of oppositionists Tsiskarishvili expressed his support towards the media but doubted in UNM’s approval. “It’s UNM MPs who take decisions at the Parliament so would they support the initiative against the brutal attacks from the special task groups which they approve, support and applause,” the analyst said confident that UNM MPs would hesitate from public discussions over the “crimes of the state structures”.

Nugzar Tsiklauri from UNM doesn’t think it is necessary to create a new commission on media-oppression issue. “If there have been facts of discrimination of journalists rights (on May 26, 2011) such cases might be discussed individually as the relevant TV footage has proved that they haven’t been touched for professional reasons,” Tsiklauri told us.