GNFC Director Gaga Chkheidze Dismissed by Georgian Ministry of Culture

    TBILISI: Georgia's Ministry of Culture has dismissed Gaga Chkheidze from his position of the director of the Georgian National Film Center. Karlo Sikharulidze, the First Deputy Minister of Culture, has assumed the position of acting director of the GNFC. Gaga Chkheidze has addressed an official letter to the Minister to reconsider and revoke the order, and declared himself ready to lodge an appeal on the Ministry's audit report.

    Gaga Chkheidze"The compliance and financial audit conducted by the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia cover the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020. The audit revealed the GNFC's misuse of financial resources in accordance with the law, significant shortcomings in the financial management system of the GNFC, systematic nature of violations of Georgian procurement law, alleged nepotism, lack of control system, etc", reads a statement from the Ministry of Culture.  

    Gaga Chkheidze, whose term would expire in April 2022, denies the accusation, while Georgian film professionals are talking about the politisation of the issue and possible threats to the further functioning of the GNFC as the Minister's action plan on cinema is still unknown and there are critical questions for the Ministry.

    Gaga Chkheidze says that Tea Tsulukiani, the former Minister of Justice of Georgia, who was appointed by the Parliament as the Minister of the newly created Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth of Georgia on 19 March 2020, has repeatedly refused to meet with film professionals.

    "Everyone was waiting for a radical increase in the budget of the GNFC and the lobbying of the cinema in all branches of government and outside it. Something completely opposite happened: the minister erected a deaf wall between the ministry and the GNFC. The Minister of Culture of Georgia (and none of her deputies) has not visited the GNFC once during this time, has not met with its staff and has been uninformed about the situation and problems at the GNFC. We are talking not merely about the incorrect, non-collegial and unfriendly attitude towards the film center, but also about the obstruction that the Ministry was performing," Chkheidze said in a statement.

    Furthermore, the audit has led to a halt in the ongoing production competitions. “The GNFC, of course, possessed nothing against the audit, because the principal purpose of internal audits is to improve the performance of the organisation to be inspected. But in our case, based on the oral instructions of the Internal Audit Department, I was forced to suspend the ongoing production competitions. The GNFC has consistently operated in full compliance with the law and has somehow maintained its own autonomy. What caused such a negative attitude of the Minister of Culture towards me and the GNFC? Conceivably the GNFC has nothing to do with it and the minister merely doesn’t like my worldview and political tastes. As for the conclusion of the audit itself, its content and the ultimate decision are on the conscience of the Minister and her staff. I addressed an official letter to the Minister yesterday to reconsider and revoke my order, otherwise I will definitely appeal the audit report and prove my veracity in any instance", we also read in the statement.