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Georgian TV host suspended for two months over insults against Russian leadership

The Russian parliament's lower house requested the anchor's extradition to Russia

TBILISI, July 8. /TASS/. Georgi Gabunia, a host at Georgia’s Rustavi-2 TV channel, has been suspended for two months for making offensive remarks against the Russian leadership while on air, the TV channel said in a statement on Monday.

"Rustavi-2’s self-regulation body has at its own initiative analyzed the text that journalist Georgi Gabunia had prepared for his Sunday’s Post Scriptum show and read out at the show’s beginning. In accordance with the self-regulation body’s decision, journalist Georgi Gabunia has been suspended for two months," the statement reads.

In his Sunday program, Gabunia used foul language to scold the Russian leadership for more than a minute. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze, former Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and ex-Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze strongly condemned his remarks. Rustavi-2 Director General Nika Gvaramia also criticized Gabunia’s behavior. In addition, the TV host’s rant received a backlash from a large number of Georgian Facebook users.

Moscow has called on international organizations to respond to the Georgian TV host’s inappropriate remarks against the Russian leadership, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. "We consider this as another provocation staged by Georgia’s radical forces, which is aimed at disrupting Russian-Georgian relations," the statement said.

On Monday, Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that Duma Council members had supported the idea of requesting Gabunia’s extradition to Russia and prosecuting him.

Massive rallies have been taking place in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi since June 20. The protests were sparked by an uproar over a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy hosted by the Georgian parliament. In accordance with an approved protocol, the head of Russia’s delegation Sergei Gavrilov, a member of the State Duma (the lower house of parliament), took the Georgian parliament speaker’s seat, irking the Georgian opposition that disrupted the event. As a result, protesters took to the streets trying to storm the parliament building. Consequently, 240 people suffered injuries and more than 300 were detained. Last week, the Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office labeled the attempt to storm the parliament as a coup aimed at overthrowing the government.