Social Justice Center, ISFED and GYLA keep defending the rights of illegally dismissed people from culture sphere.

On the 14th of March, 2022 an Executive Director of the National Film Center – Gaga Chkheidze was dismissed by the Minister of Culture, Sport, and Youth.

Since Tea Tsulukiani was appointed to this position, 70 workers have been laid off from the culture for various reasons related to reorganization and structural changes. In the end, this tendency turned into massive persecution of the workforce. Social Justice Center, ISFED, and GYLA have already been defending the interests of 22 former culture sphere representatives, we will be supporting Gaga Chkheidze too.

In the summer of 2021, an audit was conducted in the National Film Center. According to Gaga Chkeidze, a few months after that, supposedly in March 2022, some changes were present in the audit findings (A difference between the two texts is evident even in fonts too). Specifically, according to the audit conclusion presented in March, there have been some recorded violations in NFC work, which could lead to legal persecution. It is noteworthy, that about above-mentioned changes have not been discussed with Gaga Chkheidze. Therefore, it is clear, the purpose of these alterations was to aggravate Mr. Chkeidze’s responsibility and create a suitable environment for his illegal dismissing.

The former director emphasizes the minister’s unfitting intervention in the National Films Center's work and highlighted her unkind and improper attitude. All of this, supposedly, has been caused by Mr. Chkeidze’s principal and different views on NFC work. On one occasion, the ministry forced him to give a 100% grant to a certain contestant in an ongoing competition that contradicted the regulation. Gaga Chkaidze was also requested that his TV appearance must be consulted and approved by the minister. Moreover, she directly requested a selection commission to involve a person who would be loyal to a ruling party.

These incidents could be viewed as a direct intervention in the National Film Center's work and an effort to establish censorship on it. It is also noteworthy, that the same method – threatening with possible legal persecution – has been used in the cases of the National Museum and National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation Georgia. By using the above-mentioned tactics, the minister tries to discredit experienced and well-respected professionals, while establishing fear of possible legal repercussions against them.

We would like to remind that Gaga Chkheidze has been reelected as a director of the National Films Center for a three-year period with open competition. He has left 6 weeks of his tenancy when he was fired. Mr. Chkheidze was also fired from the Georgian Film Development Fund, of which he was a member since its establishment date, 2005.

 The Ministry of Culture will not be funding Gaga Chkheidze founded Tbilisi International Movie Festival with the current contest results released on 30 March 2022. Mr. Chkeidze was working in cinematography for more than 35 years in both Georgia and Europe and is a widely recognized specialist.  He is also a member of the Europe Film Academy. During his leadership period, a variety of international projects have been held in the film center which used to be greatly praised due to its filmography policy and support for the Georgian film industry.

It is obvious that the employee recruitment policy from the Ministry of Culture is aiming for totalitarian control of the entire cultural field, with discrimination of workers on political grounds, using censorship, and persecution of different views.

The endorsing organizations are encouraging the minister, Tea Tsulukiani:

-To stop using the prosecutor’s office – as a repressive instrument and threats toward the fired employees with a possibility of legal repercussions. Employees have the right to use a fair trial.

-To stop the persecution of professional employees because of different views. Employees having relevant competence and experience should have a right to continue working in a safe environment to support and defend national museums, cultural heritage, exhibits of the museum, and national treasures.