The 2010 International Day of Tolerance was a special occasion for Giorgi Gvakharia of RFE’s Georgian service. In a ceremony, the Georgian Council of Religions and the Council of National Minorities hailed Gvarkharia as a 2010 “Champion of Tolerance” for his “distinguished contribution to promoting tolerance in Georgia.” “Gogi,” as he is known in the Georgian Service, is the first journalist to win the award, which was launched in 2009.
The November 16th event was sponsored by the Georgian Ombudsman’s office and the Georgian office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Sophie Tchitchinadze of the UNDP explained that “Mr. Gvakharia has been selected for his outstanding efforts as a journalist and public figure in promoting ethnic and religious tolerance in Georgia, fighting stereotypes and raising pressing social issues.”
Jamie McGoldrick, head of the UNDP’s Georgia mission, and Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava both addressed the ceremony, which was attended by government officials, foreign diplomats, religious figures and civil society leaders.
Mr. Gvakharia has been selected for his outstanding efforts as a journalist and public figure in promoting ethnic and religious tolerance in Georgia.
David Kakabadze, Director of RFE’s Georigan Service, described Gvakharia as “someone who has never accepted the rules of the game, imposed by the majority or from above.” In the 1990s, he launched "Psycho, a television program with daring discussions of taboo topics in Georgian life, including xenophobia, intolerance, religious stereotypes, misogyny, and homophobia. Kakabdze noted that, “to this day the show, is considered one of the most significant TV contributions to the development of the culture of tolerance in Georgia”.
Since then, Gogi has moved on to other television projects. He is known in Georgia as a popular film critic and currently hosts “Red Zone,” a television program and joint project of RFE’s Georgian Service and Georgian Public Broadcasting. He is also one of several RFE reporters who are popular bloggers in Georgia.
On his television program, Gvakharia and his guests use reflect upon Soviet totalitarianism and its continued influence on Georgia. The program includes open discussions on such issues as ethnic nationalism, religious intolerance, and patriarchal cliches - topics that are all rarely discussed on other Georgian television channels.