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Rustavi 2 TV case to be discussed on Thursday

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, March 1
The Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia, which treat the most complex legal cases, will discuss the Rustavi 2 TV case this Thursday.

The court dispute over the TV channel started in August 2015, when Kibar Khalvashi, a former co-owner of Rustavi 2 from 2004 to 2006, filed a lawsuit in August 2015 to reclaim his shares in Rustavi 2, saying he was illegally deprived of his company shares under the previous United National Movement (UNM) government, which ran Georgia in 2003-2012.

Since then, all court verdicts said the channel’s shares had to be given back to Khalvashi before November 21, when three judges of the Supreme Court made a decision to hand the notorious case to the Grand Chamber.

The information about the court sitting scheduled for March 2 was released by the official web site of the Supreme Court. The statement also named the composition of the Grand Chamber, which would be represented by nine judges, including the Chair of the Supreme Court, Nino Gvenetadze.

Rustavi 2 TV Director General Nika Gvaramia commented on the scheduled trial, saying the Chamber includes two judges which Rustavi 2 had recused before, namely Nino Gvenetadze and Mzia Todua.

Gvaramia says that Gvenetadze clearly has a negative attitude towards Rustavi 2 and will be easily “manipulated by the government”, while Todua is a “supporter and donor” of the ruling party, the Georgian Dream (GD).

"We know that the judges have been pressured, everybody knows that this was going on in every instance and the judges have not resisted this pressure with the exception of three judges of the Supreme Court who handed over the case to the Grand Chamber," Gvaramia said.

Tamta Muradashvili, a lawyer of Rustavi 2, is asking for the recusal of these two judges, and it is believed they are not impartial.

“We have doubts about these judges’ impartiality and we believe our request should be discussed and the Grand Chamber should be formed after this,” she added.

Kibar Khalvashi’s lawyer, Paata Salia, also filed a motion to the Supreme Court, asking to recuse the three judges of the Supreme Court, who handed the case to the Grand Chamber in November. These judges are Besarion Alavidze, Ekaterine Gasitashvili and Paata Katamadze.

“These three judges made the decision very quickly and handed the case to the Grand Chamber, this decision was not well-grounded,” the lawyer said.

The opposition parties call on the judges to make a fair decision over the case.

“We want to believe the Supreme Court judges will only make a decision according to the law and constitution and will not be subjected to political pressure, which for so long has accompanied Rustavi 2 case,” Nino Goguadze, from Free Democrats stated.

Gigi Ugulava, member of the parliamentary minority Movement for Freedom-European Georgia, also commented on the issue. Ugulava believes that the situation is “alarming.”

“I believe that if the Supreme Court makes a decision against Rustavi 2, this will be a problem for not only this channel, but for the whole of society,” he stated.