The messenger logo

Rustavi 2 journalist curses Putin in a live show, receives backlash

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, July 9
Journalist of an opposition-minded Rustavi 2 private broadcaster Giorgi Gabunia started his show program P.S. on Sunday with the use of bad language towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, for Russia’s occupying Georgian territories and amid protests in Tbilisi which were triggered by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament on June 20.

Gabunia insulted both Putin and his deceased parents in the Russian language.

Director of the channel Nika Gvaralia made a Facebook live shortly, saying that he and the whole staff of Rustavi 2 dislike Putin. However, the attitude could have been expressed in a more civilized form.

“It is unacceptable to express yourself in such a way. The channel doesn’t welcome the behavior. Using bad language to express your views in a live show in unacceptable,” Gvaramia said.

The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics says that such a statement decreases trust and respect not only to Rustavi 2 but the whole Georgian media, encourages the hate language and damages the democratic principles of the country.

“It was a non-ethical and an irresponsible statement,” the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics said.

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze stated that “what we have seen on Rustavi 2 was an open provocation and rivalry to statehood.”

“The provocation included very dangerous messages, targeted against state stability and safety. Each clever person will distance himself/herself from the statement and say that it is a dangerous political provocation,” Bakhtadze said.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili condemned the statement, said that patriotism is absolutely a different thing, and protecting the state interests never takes place with aggression and attempting of unrest.

“Our path is peaceful. Our choice is Europe and stability,” she said.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said that “it is unacceptable to leave the provocation, masked as patriotism, without being reacted on.”

Member of the European Georgia opposition Sergi Kapanadze responded that what Gabunia said was unreasonable, but it was also unacceptable that many on the Facebook wrote that Rustavi 2 “plays a Russian game.”

People gathered in front of the Rustavi 2 building same night, several of them throwing eggs to the TV, saying that Rustavi 2 placed each Georgian citizen under threat.

One of the cameramen of the channel quit his job in protest.

Russian MP Yevgeny Primakov called for a freeze of relations with Georgia because of the offence.

Russian Foreign Ministry called the statement “an unacceptable attack on the Russian government,” however added that the Georgian government and the people reacted on adequately to the “provocation staged by radical forces in Georgia.”

Rallies in Tbilisi were sparked after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov addressed the audience gathered for the 26th Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy from the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker in Tbilisi.

People protested upon the being of the Russian MP at the high tribune of the Georgian parliament when Russia occupies 20 percent of the Georgian territories.

Back in 2017, 100 percent of shares of Rustavi 2 was handed over to its ex-owner Kibar Khalvashi, who stated that the United National Movement top figures illegally seized his shares while in leadership.

The verdict of the Georgian Supreme Court has not been enforced so far as the channel appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

The court is scheduled to announce its decision on Rustavi 2 ownership dispute on July 18, 2019.