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Radio Tavisupleba Hailed As "Champion of Tolerance"

RFE/RL Tbilisi Bureau Chief Marina Vashakmadze (center) accepting the "Champion of Tolerance" award from Georgian Public Defender's Office head Beka Mindiashvili (left) during a ceremony in Tbilisi, 15Nov2012
RFE/RL's Georgian Service was recognized as a "Champion of Tolerance" for promoting acceptance and respect for ethnic, religious, and social diversity on November 15 -- the eve of the International Day for Tolerance.

The prize is given annually to organizations, individuals, and media outlets by the United Nations Development Programme and the Georgian Public Defender's Office (GPDO). Radio Tavisupleba was selected unanimously by both the GDPO's Council of Religions and Council for Minorities units, something GDPO head Beka Mindiashvili called "unprecedented."

Georgian Service Director David Kakabadze said he considers this award the most important recognition they could receive. "This is one of the main objectives of our mission -- to protect human rights and the people whose rights are being violated. Winning this prize in a country like Georgia, with no culture or history of protecting human rights, it means that you're really making an impact."

Kakabadze noted Radio Tavisupleba's extensive coverage on issues involving intolerance and discrimination, including reports on clashes between rural Muslim minorities and Orthodox Christians, opposition to Georgia's LGBT community, the plight of disabled citizens, and violations of the rights of Roma residents.

"The question of 'why?' doesn't exist in this country when it comes to discrimination," said Kakabadze. "We are there to push the question and press for human rights."

-- Rob Peace