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Ex-PM: international organizations’ statements about Rustavi 2TV case are exaggerated

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, November 12
“Many ignorant statements have been made by the European People's Party, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),” ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili told journalists in response to international organizations’ critical statements over the Rustavi 2 TV case.

According to Ivanishvili, the government does not ignore such statements, but claimed that Georgia is not ruled from the outside as it was during the previous government.

The former PM also responded to the US ambassador Ian Kelly’s comments about Rustavi 2, in which he claimed that he was “deeply concerned about developments late Thursday night related to Rustavi 2's management and ownership.”

According to Ivanishvili, he has a friendly relationship with Ian Kelly. However, the word “night” used by the ambassador was irrelevant and inappropriate.

“In a private conversation, I told him the word “night” was not correctly used but we should not pay attention to the statement of the Ambassador, or to foreign media representatives who sometimes make mistakes,” said Ivanishvili.

He also noted that US concern over the Rustavi 2 case is exaggerated and nothing alarming is happening in the country.

“We, of course, take the United States’ notes into account. They are our key strategic partner and we work hard to assure them of our sincerity. But I think their concern is exaggerated. The reason of this is the United National Movement (UNM), which made many friends over their 9 years in power, and they managed to pretend that their dictatorship was a democracy,” the ex-PM said, and underlined the fact that the Rustavi 2 court dispute is a private matter and has nothing to do with the government.

It should be mentioned that a judge of Tbilisi City Court, Tamaz Urtmelidze ordered an interim injunction in the ownership dispute over Rustavi 2 TV to appoint temporary administrators, replacing the broadcaster’s current Director General Nika Gvaramia and Chief Financial Officer Kakha Damenia. The decision came two days after the judge ruled in favour of Kibar Khalvashi on Novermber 3, ordering a change of Rustavi 2 TV's ownership.

According to Ivanishvili, if he and the current government had interfered in the Court activities (as they are accused of doing by Rustavi 2 and some parliamentary opposition groups) they would not let the court appoint temporary managers, because they believe that such an action will prove profitable for the UNM, the former parliamentary majority.

“The government knows the decision is not profitable politically. However, nobody has provided legal arguments proving that Urtmelidze violated the law. If anybody does not like the court's decision, they can appeal to the court,” he said.

Moreover, the former PM stated that some representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Georgia are polluting civil society. He singled out that the Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia, Eka Gigauri, and claimed that Gigauri is “a successor” to the UNM party and pollutes society.

Responding to the statement, Gigauri stressed that she and the her NGO have done their utmost to protect and foster the country’s European intentions, unlike the “most influential person and de facto ruler of the country”.