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Rustavi 2 Director's accusations

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, July 24
Nika Gvaramia, Director General of Georgia’s main opposition-minded TV station, Rustavi 2, accused Finance Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili of disclosing confidential information about the debts of the company, when he stated that Rustavi 2has financial debts and is not paying them.

Gvaramia claims that Georgian legislation was grossly violated by the Minister, who revealed information which should have been protected by him.

“This is confidential information and his [Kumsishvili’s] action is a serious violation of the law. This is a bad signal not only for internal entrepreneurial circles but for all the large foreign investors,” he added.

Gvaramia stressed that Rustavi 2has debts due to pressure from the state, because all its shares and assets are frozen.He also said that if the bank account of Rustavi 2 is sequestered due to this debt, the TV company will be shut down.

"We are going to appeal to judicial institutions, including the International Court of Justice, to fully compensate for the damage that has been suffered by Rustavi 2 throughout the years," Gvaramia said.

Furthermore, the General Director of Rustavi 2 demanded the publication of financial information of former Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, saying that as far as he was aware, Ivanishvili had not paid any taxes for years.

The Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia declared in response to Gvaramia that according to the Article 39 of the Tax Code of Georgia, information about the tax debts of a taxpayer is public and not confidential.

The Revenue Service statement reads that the statement made by the Finance Minister that the Rustavi 2 company has tax arrears is not confidential and therefore the assessment of the Director General of the TV Company is “a complete lie and an attempt to mislead the public”.

Dimitri Kumsishvili made the statement regarding Rustavi 2 on Friday. He said that every company should pay taxes otherwise there will be a non-competitive environment in the country.

Kumsishvili confirmed that Rustavi 2 has financial debts, but said that negotiations are underway regarding the issue.

“When one company does not pay taxes, it creates a non-competitive environment and, unlike other companies, it has more money,” the minister added.

Rustavi 2, a popular channel in Georgia, most notably played an important role in Rose Revolution in 2003.

Kiber Khalvashi, who was a 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.

After passing every instance in court, the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that 60 percent of Rustavi 2 TV shares were to be given to Khalvashi and the remaining 40 percent to Panorama LTD, a company owned by him.

However, the European Court of Human Rights temporarily suspended enforcement of the verdict.