08:15, Thursday, 19.09.2019
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Governor Violates Rights of ‘Lomchabuki’ Employees

The Gori Regional Governor, Nukri Papunashvili faces opposition from several employees of the newspaper ‘Lomchabuki’. The journalists have informed the ‘Human Rights information and Documentation Centre’  that they are working without any settlements or salaries.

The newspaper is published by ‘Lomchabuki’ Ltd. It is the legal descendent of the Regional Administrative Board’s former newspaper ‘Goris Moambe’, which used to be issued several months ago.

The editor for the later was writer Zaur Tsakadze. The question of his resignation was discussed at the Administrative Board meeting. The Gori Regional Governor, Nukri Papunashvili categorically told the newspaper editor that the newspaper was to be abolished and bid him farewell.

Before that meeting, a secret division between the men two existed. As Zuar Tsakadze recalled later, the Regional Governor was ordered directly by the Special Representative of the President in the Region, Mikheil Kareli to dismiss the editor. However Zaur Tsakadze did not rush to leave the newspaper.

Finally, Gori Regional Governor Papunashvili decided to abolish the newspaper ‘Goris Moambe’ once and for all to get rid of the stubborn editor. Expecting dismissal, the old writer and editor published two articles exposing the illegal activities of Mikheil Kareli and Nukri Papunashvili in the last issue of ‘Goris Moambe’. However neither Governor nor Special Representative of the President knew about it.

The last issue of the Gori Regional Administrative Board Newspaper exposed the Regional Governor and Governor Mikheil Kareli for their illegal activities.

The day after the newspaper was published, an Administrative Board meeting was held and they abolished ‘Goris Moambe’. A week later ‘Lomchabuki Ltd’ was registered with the Gori Tax Inspection. The new newspaper’s founder was a former journalist for the ‘Goris Moambe’, named Khatuna Baliashvili.

The Gori Regional Governor Nukri Papunashvili set aside 13 thousand GEL for ‘Lomchabuki Ltd’. One member of staff working on the newspaper, afraid of losing their job, said that they are not being paid their salaries, despite increased the funds.

“The price for each page is estimated 6 laris,” says the journalist, “The newspaper consists of six pages in total. They might publish your articles enough only to fill two pages… thus a journalist gets 12-14 laris a month.”

We became interested in the working conditions at the ‘Lomchabuki’ newspaper and if the journalists were really working under the aforementioned conditions there. The Regional Governor avoids commenting on the fact. Official documents show that 13 thousand GEL is apportioned to ‘Lomchabuki’ per year - that means more than one thousand GEL a month. There is no further data. An appeal to the Administrative Board by a Gori correspondent working for the ‘Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre’ has been unresponded to for ten days so far.

We were told at the chancellery that the letter was sent to the Gori Regions Deputy Financial Governor, Tamar Edisherashvili. We were then sent by Tamar Edisherashvili to Fridon Afriamashvili, chief of the Fianacial Department, as the appeal was to be discussed by him. However Afriamashvili’s office has been locked for more than a week, because he is on a holiday.

By the tenth day, our protests against the sending of our letter to the chief of the Financial Department while he was on holiday resulted in the appeal being sent to Financial Department’s chief specialist, Kristine Kvitsinadze. According to her, to comply with the demands stated in the letter would take her at least several days, and because of this she could not fix an exact date for the reply.

‘Lomchabuki Ltd’ and its administration are located within the Gori Regional Administrative Board building. Its head, Khatuna Baliashvili avoids meeting with us.

The present conditions and level of respect paid to the rights of the newspaper’s staff are still unclear.

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