The Media Advocacy Coalition expresses its deep sorrow and condolences to the families, relatives and friends of those who died in the Shovi tragedy. In honour of the memory of those who died as a result of the natural disaster that occurred in Shovi on 3 August, the Government has declared 7 August a day of mourning.
In these difficult days, the work of the media and providing objective and impartial information to the public is particularly important. Unfortunately, these days we have once again witnessed the Government's attempts to silence and intimidate journalists carrying out their professional duties. These attacks are a clear violation of freedom of the press and expression.
Gela Mtivlishvili, editor of the Mtis Ambebi outlet, was one of the first media professionals to inform the public about the natural disaster in Shovi. Mtivlishvili was threatened by an official to be "thrown into the water" simply for reporting on the disaster. According to Gela Mtivlishvili, the aggression against him only occurred after the leader of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, called him a 'scumbag' and the Parliament Speaker, Shalva Papuashvili, ordered him the deletion of his social media post. Gela Mtivlishvili was also deliberately discredited.
Noteworthy, that following the Government's decision, the police did not allow media representatives to enter the site of natural disaster in Shovi.
The Media Advocacy Coalition condemns recent cases of verbal attacks and abuse, misinformation and illegal interference in media activities by the authorities. During the natural disaster, Gela Mtivlishvili and his colleagues played, and continue to play, an important role in informing the public about the situation in Shovi and about the authorities' prevention of the natural disaster and assistance to the victims.
The government's attacks on the media are a deliberate attempt to control the flow of information in violation of the right to freedom of expression and of the press.
The Media Advocacy Coalition calls on the Georgian Dream to immediately stop the attacks on the media, to respect freedom of expression and to allow the media to carry out their professional activities freely.