February 1, 2018

Thomas Kent, President, RFE/RL
Nenad Pejic, Vice President, RFE/RL

Mr. President,
Mr. Vice President,

We, the undersigned CSOs, have been watching closely recent developments around the Georgian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Dismissal of David Kakabadze from the position of the Georgian Service Director has raised questions among Radio Liberty’s devoted audience. Resignation of Marina Vashakmadze, the Head of the local Bureau, has raised further concerns that the conflict between the management and the Georgian Service staff goes beyond trivial internal dispute and may have some deeper roots.

RFE/RL management has not released official statement regarding Mr. Kakabadze’s dismissal or the nature of the conflict. On January 25, Georgian citizens signed petition in support of the Georgian Service; Writers, musicians, publishers, artists and human rights activists addressed Broadcasting Board of Governors with an open letter. Obviously, public interest towards the issue is substantial.

We understand that Radio Liberty journalists abide by internal regulations of confidentiality and do not discuss internal matters publicly, but we urge RFE/RL management to shed the light to the issue and communicate with the interested public in an open and transparent way about the nature of the conflict and the future of RFE/RL Georgian Service.

Mr. President, in the earlier statement following the termination of two RFE/RL television programs by the Georgian Public Broadcaster, you asserted: “Both programs have made an important contribution to public discourse and political development in Georgia.” We are now concerned about the future of these two highly-acclaimed programs. For us, the dedicated viewers, it is not certain whether Giorgi Gvakharia’s Anareklebi will continue on Ajara Bublic Broadcaster or not. It is even more unclear why Salome Asatiani’s show has not been launched, especially that donor funding is available and Ajara Public Broadcaster’s is willing to air it.

In the era of fake news and hybrid wars good journalism faces serious challenges. For many of us the RFE/RL reporting in the Georgian language has been an example of the highest professional standards and journalistic ethics.

In many ways the Georgian Service and the local Bureau have been a trendsetter for journalism innovation in this country, be it publishing blogs, offering mobile reporting, or exploring multimedia formats.

We expect to be convinced by RFE/RL management that the journalism produced by this professional team is still in demand.


  • Georgian Young Lawyers Association
  • Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics
  • Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center
  • Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
  • Transparency International Georgia
  • Journalism Resource Center
  • Liberal Academy-Tbilisi Media
  • Advocacy Coalition Media Club
  • Open Society Georgia Foundation
  • Small and Medium Telecom Operators Association of Georgia .
It has come to our knowledge that the Parliament of Georgia may follow the initiative proposed by the Ministry of Justice to amend the text of the new Constitution and lower the constitutional standard of access to public information.

The 2017 constitutional amendments retained the provision stating that access to public information may be restricted if the information is a state, commercial, professional or personal secret. This provision specified the types of classified information, while the state took the responsibility not to restrict access to public information without due substantiation. The Ministry of Justice has proposed removing this list of specific types of classified information and replacing it with a wording that is vague and legally faulty.

The Parliament of Georgia has stated that the constitutional amendments are aimed at reflecting the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The initiative proposed by the Ministry of Justice does not serve the same purpose, since the Venice Commission evaluated the Human Rights Chapter of the Constitution alone and did not issue any comments regarding the article the Ministry of Justice has proposed changes to. The Ministry also did not criticize this article in the spring of 2017, when the constitutional reform was ongoing.

A video containing a call for terrorism and violence was spread November 23. Several media outlets have spread the appeals unaltered. Society is entitled to receive information on possible violence or other danger. Ho
The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics expresses its sorrow over the terrorist act taken place in France and presents condolences and tolerance to relatives and colleagues of those killed, the French Embassy in Geor