July 8, 2019 - 10:08 AMT
Georgian TV host under fire for hurling vulgarities at Putin on air

An expletive-ridden rant by a Georgian TV host, who switched to Russian to hurl vulgarities at President Vladimir Putin and his late parents, has drawn a massive backlash, forcing officials to go into damage control, RT reports.

The host of an opinion show on Georgia’s opposition Rustavi 2 TV broadcaster began his Sunday, July 7 program by addressing Putin in Russian.

For nearly a minute, Georgiy Gabuniya used expletives in Russian, including making foul references to Putin’s late parents, before finally expressing his desire to “sh*t on [Putin’s] grave.”

In the tirade, Gabuniya referred to Putin as an "invader," and to Russians as “slaves.”

Despite the two countries' enmity, the stunt wasn't taken well in either Russia or Georgia, where a crowd of agitated protesters flocked to the channel’s Tbilisi headquarters, chanting slogans and demanding the host be fired.

The station was soon forced to go off-air, citing security concerns. It resumed broadcasting on Monday morning.

With the situation getting more heated by the hour, the Georgian leadership entered damage-control mode, denouncing Gabuniya for "fomenting instability." Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, who has previously called Russia an “enemy and occupier” herself, wrote on Facebook that she “unequivocally condemns hate speech, verbal aggression, insults and provocative statements”, which have nothing to do with patriotism.

PM Mamuka Bakhtadze called the incident “a disgusting act of provocation and an attempt to destabilize our country.”

Rustavi 2 itself was initially unapologetic for the vulgar rant, with its top executive saying only that he would have worded it shorter. But with protesters gathering at its doors, the channel finally issued a semi-apology, denouncing “the form of expression,” and then using the same statement to bemoan "the attacks and threats made by the Georgian authorities in response" to Gabuniya's escapade.