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Georgian journalists are asked for solidarity2009-03-10 17:19
Recently Tbilisi held "Journalists, Unite In Solidarity" action initiated by Tamaz Bibiluri who is trying to return the building of Samshoblo publishing house to editorial offices that were evicted from there in 2007 following privatization.
Twice the Georgian authorities put Samshoblo building (Rodina) in Kostava Street to tender. For the first time in 2006 they asked too much for it - 20 mln dollars. The auction was not held as there were no bids. The second attempt to sell the building in 2007 was a failure too.
Irakly Chogovadze who was Minister for Economic Development at that time ascertained that following privatization the tenant companies would not have problems. However in August 2007, a month before the bids were admitted, all Samshoblo dwellers were forced out of the rented spaces.
The following editorial offices and companies had to search for a new refuge: "Sakartvelos Respublica", "Svobodnaya Gruzia", "Vecherni Tbilisi" and "Golovinsky prospect" (published in Russian), "Podruga" and "Dila" magazines, as well as Hit FM radio station, the office of Interstate TV Company of the CIS countries "Mir", "Vrastan" (Armenia) and "Gyurdzhistan" (Azerbaijan). Publishing of certain periodicals had to be suspended. Even Kavkasia TV could not get back to broadcasting at once.
Then Georgian society actively opposed the privatization of the building in Kostava street. "Georgian Academy" NGO accused the authorities of suppression of freedom of speech. The writers could not believe that Mikheil Saakashvili for whom journalism according to Makvala Berianidze, a publicist, "was a beautiful dream of his childhood" and who was a member of the Federation of Journalists himself could sell the publishing house. And the president did not do that. Not out of altruism though.
As Tengiz Ablotia, a Georgian expert of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, explained to GeorgiaTimes at first people were in the way of privatization then came the war in Tskhinval, now it is the crisis. In August Samshoblo became a shelter for refugees from South Ossetia.
"Solidarity of Georgia" chairman Tamaz Bibiluri demands that the publishing house be returned to the journalists and Dom SMI joint stock company be established there, as GHN reports. In February he promised to hold daily protest actions starting from March 3.
"We will regularly make "a live chain of solidarity" of the ousted journalists in front of Samshoblo publishing house and the First Channel of Georgian Public Broadcast building", - he threatened. Yesterday he started putting his plan into practice.