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During his meeting with FactCheck,

the member of the Non-Parliamentary Opposition Inter-Party Group working on the improvement of the electoral environment, Mamuka Katsitadze, talked about Georgia’s electoral system. During the meeting, Mr Katsitadze stated that given the importance of the issue at hand, the Inter-Party Group addressed the Public Broadcaster of Georgia with the request to allocate air time in order to discuss this issue several months ago; however, the Public Broadcaster did not respond to this request.

FactCheck

took interest in this issue and on 3 March 2016 addressed the Public Broadcaster of Georgia with the following questions:

  • Did the Non-Parliamentary Opposition Inter-Party Group address you with the request to allocate air time in order to discuss electoral issues?
  • If they did, how did you respond to this request?

We received a response letter from the Public Broadcaster of Georgia on 22 March 2016. The letter says that the Non-Parliamentary Opposition Inter-Party Group has not addressed the Public Broadcaster with the request to give them some air time to discuss electoral issues.

However, Mamuka Katsitadze insists that a letter signed by the two members of the Inter-Party Group, Zurab Kharatishvili and Giorgi Akhvlediani, was definitely delivered to the Public Broadcaster. Later, Mr Kharatishvili provided FactCheck

with detailed information about his address to the Public Broadcaster of Georgia.

According to Mr Kharatishvili, the Non-Parliamentary Opposition Inter-Party Group addressed the Public Broadcaster of Georgia on 23 October 2015 and this was covered by the media as well. The 23 October 2015 news report on Rustavi 2 points out that the Inter-Party Group addressed the Public Broadcaster with the request to organise discussion rounds about the necessary changes to the electoral system. The news report also features the comments of the authors of the address, Zurab Kharatishvili and Giorgi Akhvlediani, who underscored the importance of the Public Broadcaster’s allocating time for debates about the electoral system. Mr Kharatishvili also provided us with the working version of the aforementioned request which was addressed to the Director General of the Public Broadcaster of Georgia, Giorgi Baratashvili.

It should be pointed out that the Public Broadcaster took 15 days to write its letter in response to our questions. Of note, too, is that FactCheck

was contacted twice by Public Broadcaster with questions of clarification concerning exact months pertinent to our request. During these telephone calls, we explained that we had been asking for the aforementioned information concerning the period of the last six months.

According to Article 2 of the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting, the Public Broadcaster of Georgia is a legal entity of public law which is created by state funds, financed by the public, independent from the government and accountable to the people. Hence, it is subject to the Remark of Article 40 of the General Administrative Codex of Georgia which obligates it to provide public information immediately or no later than ten days after the request. It goes without saying that the distributed information must be correct and true.

Conclusion FactCheck’s

study reveals that the Non-Parliamentary Opposition Inter-Party Group did indeed address the Public Broadcaster of Georgia with the request to allocate air time in order to discuss electoral issues. This is confirmed by the authors of the address, the news reports of the media and the draft version of the letter sent to the Public Broadcaster.

FactCheck

has upon several occasions encountered instances when the request for information from public structures has been received late or not at all. However, we have not experienced such a direct attempt at being misled from any other public structure. We cannot know the motivation for the Public Broadcaster to do so. The fact remains, however, that we were supplied with incorrect information in parallel with the request of the non-parliamentary opposition being unanswered.

Hence, the statement of the Public Broadcaster of Georgia that the Non-Parliamentary Opposition Inter-Party Group did not address them with the request for some air time in order to discuss electoral issues is a LIE.

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