May 7, 2024

07.05.2024 – Allegedly Verbal Attack by a High Level Politician in Tbilisi / Tiflis, Georgia – Journalists Attacked During a Demonstration in Tbilisi / Tiflis, Georgia: Threat to Press Freedom

A high level politician in Tbilisi / Tifilis, Georgia, stirred controversy on 2 May 2024, following an allegedly tense exchange with journalist Nutsa Bakhutashvili from the channel Formula TV ( Formula TV is a critical TV channel in Georgia. The incident unfolded when Bakhutashvili questioned the politician about the reported use of rubber bullets by police at a protest against the foreign agent bill held on 1 May 2024 in Tbilisi. Implicitly suggesting that the politician was misleading the public, Bakhutashvili’s inquiry led to a heated confrontation. The response by the politician was swift and aggressive, as he resorted to derogatory language, labeling the journalist allegedly as “insolent scum” and issuing allegedly a verbal tirade against her.

The altercation continued to garner attention when, on 3 May 2024, the same politician ironically extended his well wishes to journalists on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. Despite his apparent acknowledgment of the importance of press freedom, his subsequent remarks hinted at a retaliatory stance towards journalists who he believes offend him. This stance raises concerns about the mayor’s commitment to upholding freedom of the press and respecting the role of journalists in society.

Moreover, the politician commentary on the violence that erupted during the Pride March in Tbilisi on 5 July 2021, adds another layer to the controversy. While condemning the violence against journalists during the event, he also insinuated that certain media outlets, along with the President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili and Western-funded groups, were responsible for inciting violence in Georgia. Such implications not only deflect accountability but also undermine the vital role of journalists in holding power to account and safeguarding democratic principles.

The altercation between this politician and Bakhutashvili highlights the challenges faced by local journalists in Georgia and underscores the importance of protecting press freedom. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for journalists to carry out their work without fear of reprisal or intimidation. As such, the incident prompts a broader conversation about the state of media freedom in Georgia and the need for public officials to uphold the principles of democracy, including respect for the freedom of the press and the rights of journalists to report freely and without interference.

You can see the full video of the conversation here:

Additional on 1 and 2 May 2024, during the demonstration in Tbilisi against the new foreign agent law, several media workers were attacked and injured. According to local sources the media staffs were allegedly attacked by police during reporting from the demonstration. Mindia Gabadze, working for, was beaten. Avto Meskhi, Luka Lavrelashvili and Zuka Chkhirkvia, camera-persons working for Mtavari Arkhi (, founded 2019) were injured in the Rustawelis Gamsiri Avenue in Tbilisi. Davit Tamazashvili, Nika Sajaia and Salome Bokuchava, working for Formula TV, were also attacked. The day before, on the night of 30 April and the dawn of 1 May 2024, the police allegedly forces verbally insulted and physically injured at least 14 journalists. The Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia condemned this use of police forces against journalists.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the allegedly verbal attack by Tbilisi politician against Formula TV journalist Nutsa Bakhutashvili and the attacks on journalists during the demonstration. Such behavior undermines press freedom and the essential role of journalists in fostering transparency and accountability in society. Journalists must be able to perform their duties without fear of reprisal or intimidation. SEEMO calls on Georgian authorities to uphold the rights of journalists to conduct their work freely and without interference and the police to protect the journalists, and urges the politician to respect the principles of media freedom and refrain from any actions that could inhibit journalistic activities.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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