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Rustavi 2 TV Speaks about 'another attack' against Them

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, May 8
Opposition-minded Rustavi 2 TV, which has many times become the subject of dispute in court, speaks about the 'new phase of the attack' against them from the owner of 9% of shares of the company.

Director General of the TV station Nika Gvaramia says that the channel will continue working in an emergency mode, adding the owner of the 9% of shares of Rustavi 2, Nino Nizharadze, has submitted a lawsuit to the court, asking for GEL 26 million from him and other shareholders.

Gvaramia claims that the purpose of the dispute is to change Rustavi 2's editorial policy and suspend its director's authority. According to him, this demand was initially claimed in the suit but was taken out at the last minute.

The Director General of the company also says that Nizharadze wants the broadcaster to be broke, linking the case to the founder and the chair of the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD), billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

"A new war against Rustavi 2 has been launched, and it is a fight against Georgian democracy and freedom of speech, but we are not going only to defend our interests. We are not going to switch to an attack mode. We will win this time too,” he stressed.

Besides, Gvaramia confirms that Rustavi 2 has debts that have not been paid since September 2016.

According to the director of Rustavi 2, Nino Nizharadze is a wife of the former director of the channel Gogi Gegeshidze, who received the company's shares after Gegeshidze's death.

'There are authorities behind this woman…If Rustavi 2 closes down, it will seriously damage the country’s image. We will not give up,'he added.

The United National Movement (UNM), which is often linked with the Rustavi 2 TV, says that this is a 'new wave of the attack on the broadcaster from the authorities.'

Party member Grigol Vashadze stated that the government wants to 'take revenge' on the television.

'Ivanishvili's regime wants to confront the public, strengthen the persecution of the opposition and try to suppress free speech…We, the whole political spectrum, will defend the TV station and will not let the government to transform the country into the Russian Federation,' Vashadze claimed.

Vice-Prime Minister Maia Tskitishvili says the statement of Rustavi 2 is an attempt to demonstrate as if there is underway an attack against them.

She rejected the accusations about the suppression of freedom of speech.

'Rustavi 2 repeatedly announces some attacks, but they have an unlimited opportunity to express their opinions. However, they express their opinions out of all ethical, real and moral forms. Accordingly, we all assume that there is no attack on Rustavi 2 and this is again another attempt to mislead our citizens as well as the international community,' she said.

Rustavi 2 and Nika Gvaramia have been accusing the government of the 'pressure and attack' since the GD party came to power in 2012.

The court dispute over Rustavi 2 started in 2015, when Kibar Khalvashi, a former co-owner of the TV channel, filed a lawsuit to regain his stocks in Rustavi 2. According to Khalvashi, his company shares were illegally taken away from him by the United National Movement.

The Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia, which is tasked with solving the most complex cases, made the final decision on the Rustavi 2 TV dispute and granted the assets of the broadcaster to Khalvashi in early March 2017.

However, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) temporarily suspended enforcement of the verdict the next day.