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Georgian TV news accused of collusion on Kimeridze coverage

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, March 12
Transparency International Georgia suspects that the Georgian national television networks aired coordinated news coverage of the death of Solomon Kimeridze in a Khashuri police station.

Transparency International's Lasha Gogidze and Mathias Huter identified the identical copy and video footage Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, and the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Channel 1 used to cover the story.

“One fact was striking: Not only were the images used to cover the case largely identical, but the wording used by news anchors to report the case was almost word-for-word the same,” they said, expressing worry about the lack of editorial independence among the country’s major broadcasters, especially in covering "politically sensitive" stories.

According to the news reports, members of Georgian Dream tried to enter Kimeridze’s house with TV cameras, irritating Kimeridze’s family, who forced the politicians to leave the village.

As Gogidze and Huter argue, news stories about Kimeridze aired by the three national television stations did not cover the fact that the Georgian Dream representatives raised questions about the case, alleging that Kimeridze’s death might have been the result of police brutality.

The three networks accused Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political team of using the tragedy for “political gain”, and said that Kimeridze’s relatives had asked them to stop. However, the late man’s family has said that they want to know what happened in the police station on February 27, when Kimeridze was taken in for "interrogation as an accused” of burglary.

According to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Kimeridze died from injuries “not compatible with life” after he fell down the stairs of the police station.

The Khashuri Chief of Police, who is responsible for safety and security in the police station, was removed from his position, but the Public Defender’s Office has called on the authorities to carry out a “comprehensive and impartial” investigation to determine whether Kimeridze was subjected to inhuman treatment before his death.