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High Council of Justice appeals politicians to refrain from making statements over Rustavi 2 case

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, August 13
The High Council of Justice has called on different branches of government as well as all related individuals to refrain from making statements concerning the ongoing process of Georgia’s one of the most influential TV channel Rustavi 2 that has faced a freeze on its assets based on a demand of one of its former shareholders.

“Statements and comments from some representatives of governmental branches against or in favour of the parties put the court proceedings in danger and challenge the court’s authority and prestige, as well as impartiality of the judge and the rule of law,” reads the statement.

According to the High Council of Justice, court proceedings regarding the dispute over Rustavi 2 TV are open and the media is allowed to cover court sessions, aiming to satisfy high public interest.

Rustavi 2, which has already appealed the City Court solution over instating a lien on its assets but bank accounts, stresses that there was no ground for taking the step by the City Court judge.

“There is no evidence in the file proving that former shareholder of the channel Kibar Khalvashi was forced to give away his shares. We think that due to the lack of evidences court must make a decision and abolish the seizure,” said the channel’s lawyer Tamta Muradashvili.

Kibar Khalvashi"s lawyer, Paata Salia, stated that they are for legal restoration of justice and are ready to answer all the questions.

Meanwhile, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said on August 11 that “disproportionate and excessive” court order may pose a threat to free media and media pluralism.

“The court injunction may negatively affect the channel’s ability to operate freely,” Mijatovic said. “The decision is disproportionate and excessive and may constitute a threat to media pluralism in Georgia.”

“I appeal to the authorities to do their utmost to ensure media pluralism in the country,” Mijatovic said.

The government says it does not interfere in the issue and the case it fully within the court’s competence.

The opposition United National Movement (UNM) party stresses that the process is being provoked by the government, that dislikes the channel’s critical broadcasting rather than certain former owners of Rustavi2.

Khalvashi, who co-owned Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 television station in 2004-2006, has filed a lawsuit seeking to claim back his shares in the broadcaster. His lawyers stress that Khalvashi was forced by the former government members to concede his shares he had bought for 7 million GEL.

Two founders of the channel also made statements, accusing the former government of making pressure on them and transferring the channel as a media lever for the current opposition United National Movement.