SOS – Media in Danger – under the given slogan journalists protested the intrusion of the head of the managing company into Maestro TV and the removal of kiosks following Tbilisi City Hall decision. The rally was held at the Presidential Residence.
“We came here to make the authorities fulfill their responsibility and drive Erosi Kitsmarishvili out of Maestro TV premises,” said Mamuka Glonti, co-founder of Maestro TV speaking at the gathering.
According to the registry Bacho Kikabidze, driven out of the building by Erosi Kitsmarishvili, is registered as the director of Maestro TV.
"The law recognizes that Bacho Kikabidze is the director but the police and Mikheil Saakashvili do not. We demand the execution of law so that the journalists were able to enter the building and work on,” says Glonti.
On November 30 Erosi Kitsmarishvili, together with some of his security guards climbed over the fence around the TV company premises. The decision, he clarified, was made to stop the process which aims at alienating the TV company to business tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder of public movement Georgian Dream.
“Let’s say we hire Erosi who used to put money into the TV company. Then we found another one who can bring us more income. Can’t we offer Erosi compensation and let him go? That’s included in the contract. Nevertheless instead of climbing over the fence he could go and lodge a complaint to the court, says Glonti.
Lasha Tugushi, editor-in-chief, Georgian daily Rezonansi says the City Hall decision on announcing tender for kiosks is the killing of press.
“In the city there is no kiosk left distributing press. The government takes handmade counters as newsstands and quite expectedly they will make them die out too. I don’t know if they want to publish the Iskra like Lenin,” says Tugushi.
“Newspaper reading is one of the elements of City culture. Throughout years people get used to buying papers at the same place. I loved buying press at Bukia garden or at Dolidze streetcorner, and now I don’t want to buy there eggs instead of newspapers, that’s violence,” says journalist Alexander Elisashvili of Kavkasia TV.
On November 11, 2011 Tbilisi City Hall announced an auction to obtain a right to set up the trading booths on 1,000 spots in the streets of the capital city. 150 lots coincide with the spots where the newsagent kiosks have been operating for years. The City has already ordered the owner companies such as Planeta Forte, Matsne and Elva Servis to remove the aforementioned kiosks. The winning company will have a right to sell any kind of goods at the booths.