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Georgian National Communication Commission head resigns

By Keti Arjevanidze
Wednesday, April 17
The head of Georgian National Communication Commission, Irakli Chikovani has resigned. The commission has received a resignation letter by the chairperson by fax, in which he asks the president to confirm his resignation, at the same time he asks to remain as the member of the commission.

Chikovani is currently abroad as he went on vacation last November. If the president signs Chikovani`s resignation, then the commission will be chaired by one of its members, who will be appointed by the president.

Chikovani has been out of office for five months up until now. In the first three months he was on paid holiday. On April 15, 2013 the 2-month period expired during which Irakli Chikovani had a right to stay out of office.

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) commented on the issue. According to GYLA’s lawyer, Mariam Gogisashvili as Chikovani’s has not presented the note to excuse his absence at office for two months, the Parliament of Georgia is authorized to raise the issue over the dismissal of Irakli Chikovani from the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC).

Despite Chikovani’s application the position for Georgian National Communication Commission head is not announced as vacant. According to Khatia Kurashvili, spokesperson of Georgian National Communication Commission the president will decide, out of remained four commission members who will perform the duties of GNCC’s chairperson.

Conflict of interests and Chikovani’s biased decisions are NGOs main allegations. According to Eka Gigauri, International Transparency- Georgia’s executive Director, there are a lot of questions to Chikovani and they must be answered.

GYLA’s lawyer Mariam Gogisashvili also thinks that “it should be studied the facts that do not give Chikovani the opportunity to be the committee member and the head of the committee,” and specified that Chikovani is shareholder of Magi Style Media, whose main field of activity includes TV ad placement, which is regulated by National Communication Commission.

Several months ago Chikovani was criticised by Giorgi Ratishvili, former head of the Commission’s Regulating Department, who transferred the covert audio material to TV Maestro, revealing Chikovani being subjective towards several companies.

Mikeladze Foundation and the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) carried out report monitoring GNCC activities. The report shows that the Chairman of GNCC faces conflict of interest.

Georgian Parliament still continues to study Chikovani’s past activity. According to MP Zurab Tkemaladze, the fact that the head decided to resign does not necessarily mean that there was a crime and the case must be studied. UNM member, Levan Bezhashvili said that their party is going to participate in the investigation, “it is interesting and important for us to know what was going on in GNCC,” said Bezhashvili.