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Thursday, 19 April 2018


Dispersion of opposition with a discount

2011-12-28 17:52

Dispersion of opposition with a discount. 25988.jpeg

The city court of Tbilisi has partially met the claim of seven journalists injured at the dispersion of the oppositional demonstration in Rustaveli avenue on May 26. On one hand, the fact that Vano Merabishvili's authority was acknowledged responsible for beating representatives of mass media and waste of property is a small victory in the deed of protecting freedom of speech. However, the insignificant amount of the compensation that looks more like mockery, points to a show-off for the West that is keeping a keen eye on developments in Georgia.

Vano Merabishvili's omnipotent ministry is not as scary as it is depicted. Judge Teea Tadashvili put a full stop in investigating the fact of beating journalists by representatives of the Georgian interior ministry during dispersion of the People's Assembly oppositional movement demonstration. Many mass media employees were affected then: according to Reporters Without Borders - at least 12 persons were injured. Some were hit by rubber bullets and beaten severely. Some were poisoned with tear gas. The professional equipment was taken away and damaged. Despite the fact that nearly 15 policemen were punished for the abuse of power after the violent dispersion of the protest rally, representatives of seven mass media - Netgazeti, Guria News, Batumelebi, Chokhatauris matsne, Ahali ambebi and Radiocenter were not satisfied and decided to go further. In July they submitted a claim against the Ministry of interior demanding recovery of moral and physical damage.

And they were right to do that, as it turned out afterwards. Judge Tadashvili ruled out to meet demands of seven correspondents partially. The total amount the ministry of interior shall pay to them for beating and ruined equipment is GEL 6500. This is a real victory of the mass media over the powerful ministry in their struggle for an independent media field to be created in the Transcaucasian republic.

"A small amount of money will be paid, but the court verdict itself has an important meaning. This is recognition of the fact that a journalist helps the society to make use of its right to freedom of speech. Besides, it shows that nobody has right to put obstacles to the work of journalists", - Natia Kapanadze, a lawyer from the Association of Young Lawyers of Georgia, who undertook to represent interests of the plaintiffs, comments on the verdict of the judge

At least, this is what we see at first sight. But the devil, as we know, hides in details. Studying the verdict of the court of Tbilisi in more detail, the victory does not seem so evident. Firstly, not all plaintiffs are considered as the aggrieved party. Only three journalists will be able to claim compensation from Vano Merabishvili's ministry. Claims of the others are acknowledged as ungrounded. Besides, it is unlikely these "lucky" ones will be content. Nato Gogelia, a journalist with Guria News, who left her breastfed baby at home in order to fulfill her professional duty, will get a GEL 17.5 compensation, and her mobile phone that was taken away, will not be refunded. Yet, some did not get anything at all. Konstantin Stalinsky, a reporter with NetGazeti, will have to be content with a ridiculous amount of GEL 12. He is not offended. To him it is most important that justice triumphs. It is hard to contradict Konstantin: in Mikheil Saakashvili's state this does not happen often.

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