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Freedom House Makes Corrections in Its Report on Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 18
The US-based, state financed non-profit organization Freedom House admitted mistakes in its Nations in Transit Report on Georgia released in early April, which was grilled and hailed as “very biased” by the Georgian Dream leadership.

The corrections mostly concern the media issues.

“An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that the second channel of the public broadcaster GPB was closed down. The channel still operates but its content has been reduced,” the report reads now.

“An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that the Georgian Dream government returned ownership of Imedi TV to the family of the deceased businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili. It was the United National Movement which had returned control of the broadcaster to the family after Georgian Dream defeated UNM in elections in October 2012.

“In addition, an earlier version of this report incorrectly referred to the combination of Imedi TV, Maestro TV and GDS as a "merger,” when the combination was the result of two transactions,” the current version of the report says.

The Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze stated that the mistakes were made by the NGOs and individuals which provided the Freedom House with the incorrect data.

“It is good that the Freedom House is correcting the information,” Kobakhidze said.

The Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated on April 12, shortly after the release of the report, that the survey on Georgia was "extremely biased and based on unbalanced information.”

“I believe that Freedom House should think twice before it spreads such biased assessments about Georgia’s democratic development level,” the PM stated about the report which lowered Georgia’s democracy score from 4.61 to 4.68.

The Freedom House ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7- the lowest.

The report declined Georgia’s democracy score due to two main reasons.

Independent Media rating declined from 4.00 to 4.25 due to apparently politicized editorial policies at Georgian Public Broadcasting, continuing pressure on the critical television channel Rustavi 2, and ownership consolidation among pro-government private television stations.

Judicial Framework and Independence declined from 4.75 to 5.00 due to the illegal deportation of dissident Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli to Azerbaijan and a high-profile case in which a foreign company faced punitive fines after a deeply flawed judicial process.