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Maestro satellite saga continues as rally is planned in front of parliament today

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 25
Problems concerning Maestro TV are ongoing. Representatives of various media outlets will hold a rally in front of the parliament building on July 25 at 17:00 to support the television station.

The rally aims to protest the illegal seizure of Maestro’s satellite antennas and the rally participants hope their demands will result in the return of the satellite equipment to their rightful owners.

According to the Georgian prosecutor’s office, they impounded thousands of satellite antennas on July 22. It was the second time that Maesto TV antennas were seized.

The prosecutor’s office claims that it has the evidence to prove that Maestro TV had made a deal with companies affiliated with the Georgian Dream opposition coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. The chief prosecutor’s office mentioned that Maestro TV was acting on behalf of Ivanishvili-related companies and their actions were targeted to buy citizens’ votes.

“The channel has once again tried to bring satellite antennas in the country by using the previous scheme,” said the Chief Prosecutor, reiterating that the seizure of the antennas was done to prevent voter bribing.

Maestro TV’s leadership denies any connection with Ivanishvili and explains that their goal of expanding the satellite antennas into the region was to increase the channel’s coverage area.

“We have already asked the Prosecutor’s Office to remove the sequester. However, unfortunately we have not received a reply yet. The Prosecutor’s Office continues to take unreasonable steps. It seized two more vehicles, loaded with the the TV company’s equipment. We think it is a serious mistake,” Lasha Tughushi, editor-in-chief of the Rezonansi said.

Media outlets have appealed to the government to make a political decision concerning Maestro. “The problem needs an immediate solution. Freedom of speech is the supreme principle for any normal and democratic state. Consequently, the government should make a political decision regarding this issue. It should show us what it wants– a pluralistic environment, democracy and fair elections or just violence. The Maestro issue is an important test for the government,” Nino Jangirashvili, Head of Information Service at Kavkasia TV said.

The Head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, told The Messenger that the ongoing actions concerning Mestro TV do not fit in with [Georgia’s] constitution. “In cases where something is seized, there must first be an investigation and there should be someone who is responsible for the crime. The investigation was launched in this case, however, there has been no responsible figure…the property is still being seized,” Kakhishvili stated. He also underscored that on the one hand, a democratic image is being created by the government, yet everything is being done from the authorities’ side to repress the democratic process. “For international society they decided to obey the Must Carry. However, this was just on the paper; in reality they are doing everything to disturb the principle of multiple broadcasting in the regions. The head of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre also admitted that the government had chosen a profitable time for their activities to be less controlled. “When the government moved the election date from May to autumn, they explained the fact as if Georgian and Russian elections would be coinciding, but they appointed the elections in such a period when there is an election period in the US. Thus, the US will not pay much attention to the election process in Georgia,” Kakhishvili stated, adding that inner forces must be alarmed, as foreign countries mainly act based on their state interests.