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A businessman demands shares of most influential Georgian TV channel

By Messenger Staff
Friday, August 7
Rustavi 2 still remains one of the most influential TV channels in Georgia. Those who remember the Rose Revolution of 2003 will also recall the merit of the media outlet in the revolution.

It has been stated multiple times that it was actually“Rustavi 2” which assured the success of the revolution through its large –scale media campaign and anti-Shevardznadze broadcasting.

Now, the current government of Georgia, which managed to replace the Rose Revolution authorities, permanently states that the Rustavi 2 is the major lever of the former government which is currently the Parliamentary opposition.

The Georgian Dream government members frequently accuse Rustavi 2 of partiality to the United National Movement party, and stress that “unfortunately” the channel still remains a flagman of the Georgian media.

A couple of days ago, a Georgian businessman, Kibar Khalvashi, has filed a lawsuit in court in order to “regain his share” in Rustavi 2 TV, demanding the partners’ shares to be attached.

The businessman’s Georgian and foreign lawyers have held a special press-conference regarding the issue. As reported, Khalvashi’s complaint was submitted to the court on August 4.

According to his lawyers, they were informed that the Rustavi 2 shares are planned to be re-registered in order to complicate the process of returning them to the legal owner.

As one of his lawyers, Paata Salia, declares, sequestration of the shares will strengthen the chances of getting them back.

“Businessman Kibar Khalvashi has been demanding an investigation be launched into the violence against him and his property issue…but the government’s inactivity cannot be understood.

“As it has been revealed, the present government cannot fulfill its promise concerning restoration of justice and returning illegally confiscated property back to its rightful owners,”- Paata Salia remarked.

Kibar Khalvashi was closely affiliated with the UNM government official Irakli Okruashvili. However, since coming to office Okruashvili had a conflict with his former allies and he had to leave the country and seek asylum in France. Consequently, Khalvashi also faced problems as his main protector had to quit his power.

In response Director of Rustavi 2 Nika Gvaramia stresses that “it was cynical the ‘predator’ Khalvashi was speaking about taking away of his property.”

Gvaramia said that Khalvashi had no chance to achieve a success if the process is conducted in a fair manner, as all the shareholders purchased their shares legally.

“It is interesting what kind of verdict will be made by the court. I hope that it will not support the government moving to totalitarianism. Of course, it is not Kibar Khalvashi’s game, it is the government’s game as they had failed to affect Rustavi 2 from other angles. They would definitely collapse in the situation as well,” Gvaramia said.

It is a fact that the government does not act appropriately with regards to the restoration of justice.

Supposedly, they are afraid of the international reactions and at the same time do not have enough money to satisfy all the thousands of affected individuals under the previous government. Based on official information the Prosecutor’s Office is overloaded with such suits.

The government might also have a problem of a professional and sufficient staff that would carry out thorough investigations.

In many cases the relevant bodies might also have to specify how the individuals accumulated the property that might have been taken away by former officials, Kibar Khalvashi’s property issues among them.

With regards to Rustavi 2, despite the director of the channel claiming to be unbiased, it is arguably not advisable for him to claim that the current government is authoritarian. Whether the government is really authoritarian or not should be discussed by the people; the media should only ensure transparent and unbiased programmes and news.