Decision - GBTimes Georgia VS. Magda Kldiashvili

Violated Principle : principle1;
Applicant : GB Times;
Respondent : Magda Kldiashvili;
Decision N104
October 1, 2016

case - GBTimes Georgia VS. Magda Kldiashvili

Head of Council: Nino Zuriashvili

Members of Council: Jaba Ananidze, Nino Jafiashvili, Maia Mamulashvili, Irina Kurua, Nino Narimanishvili

Applicant: GBTimes Georgia

Respondent: Magda Kldiashvili


Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics was addressed by GBTimes Georgia on account that an article published by on June 10th, 2016 – “Scandal – Tariel Khechikashvili gifted an Athletics stadium to Saburtalo”, has violated the first and third principles of the Journalistic Charter. The author of the disputed article was Magda Kldiashvili. The article addressed the transfer of Dighomi athletics stadium to the Georgian Football Federation. The review of the case was attended by the submitter of the notice, as well as the respondent journalist.

Findings of the Council

According to the Charter’s first principle “A journalist must respect the truth and the right of the society to receives correct information”. The applicant deemed several factual circumstances in the article disputable. In particular, according to the article:

  • “The Dighomi Athletics stadium, that facilitated a swimming pool, gymnastics arena, two gymnasiums for volleyball and a new stadium, was transferred to the Georgian Football Federation, in solicitation with the Ministry of Sport and Youth affairs. The Football Federation, in turn transferred this gift to Football Club “Saburtalo”.
  • “According to the information verified by JAKO FM, the Georgian Football Federation will transfer an athletics stadium, that qualifies for all standards, to Football Club “Saburtalo” shortly.”

The council has studied the legislative basis, based on which occurred the transfer, in particular Decree N792 of the Government of Georgia, May 11th, 2016. According to this document, NAPR Georgian Football Federation has received a non-agricultural land lot of 60869.00m2 and any buildings within its premises for 49 (fourty-nine) years, via the right of gratuitous usufruct.

In its legislative essence, property transmitted via gratuitous usufruct cannot be classified as a gift and the person receiving property via usufruct cannot be deemed as an owner, in the same sense as with a gift. Also, the article notified in a form of a confirmed fact, that the receiver of the property [Georgian Football Federation] was planning to transfer said property to the Football Club “Saburtalo”. A governmental decree would not grant the Football Federation a right to transfer a property received via usufruct to another person. Thus, the journalist had the obligation to study the legislative document and:

Not present the fact of transferring property via usufruct as a “gift”, as using a term “gift” could mislead some readers to think, that Georgian Football Federation has received the property with the right of full ownership, which does not correspond with the truth. Furthermore, the article contained information received from the Vice-president of Georgian Athletics Federation, Vasil Berishvili, which stated that the property belonged to Georgian Football Federation. Thus, it was of more importance to provide accurate information regarding the legislative basis for transfer.

Not state that the Federation was planning to transfer the property to the Football Club “Saburtalo” as a proven fact, as the Governmental decree did not grant the Football Federation such authority, meaning the property could not have been transferred. The journalist also could not provide any other legislative document [Normative act, agreement], that could reinforce the validity of her information regarding the transfer of property to the F.C “Saburtalo”.

The article also informed that the general area of the transferred property amounted of 4,400 hectares. On the contrary, according to the governmental decree, 6.869 hectares [60869m2] were transferred. The council deemed this to be a technical mistake, but also underlines, that when reporting of property management, especially Governmental property, a journalist must always show attention to details, always check them as to not mislead the reader.

The Council also discussed an article by Magda Kldiashvili posted on on June 11th, 2016 – “Ministry of sports – Athletics stadium transferred to Georgian Football Federation for hosting the tournaments”. An article contained the position of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs of Georgia regarding the article posted the day before. The ministry stated, that the goal of the property management was not to transfer it to F.C “Saburtalo”. The council must decide if the article posted on June 11th could be considered as a correction to the article posted on June 10th, that violated the first principle of the Charter. After a discussion, the council decided that the correction did not happen, as:

  1. The original article has not been corrected and may be found in the original form.
  2. An applicant, whose responsibility is to manage the web-page that hosted the disputed articles, has stated that the author hasn’t requested a correction or removal of the June 10th article. This circumstances hasn’t been disputed by the respondent journalist either.

According to the third principle of the Charter: “Journalist must convey information only based on the facts with approved sources, the journalist must not hide important facts, must not forge documents and information”. The respondent journalist clarified, that the information on alleged transfer of property to F.C “Saburtalo” was submitted to her by an anonymous source. As the Council deduced within the discussion on the first principle, the information provided by the source was not correct, but not naming the source does not mean an absence of one. In the disputed case, it is clear that the information provided by the source has not been checked as it was necessary, which caused the violation of only the first principle.

According to the information above, the Council deduced:
  • Magda Kldiashvili has violated the first principle of the Charter.
  • Magda Kldiashvili has not violated the third principle of the Charter.