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60% of Rustavi 2 TV shares get frozen after founders sue the owner

By Levan Abramishvili
Tuesday, October 22
Tbilisi City Court began litigation on David Dvali and Jarji Akimidze's civil lawsuit against Kibar Khalvashi and froze 60% of the shares of the channel, according to Kakha Kozhoridze, the lawyer of the founders of Rustavi 2 TV, Jarji Akimidze and Davit Dvali.

Dvali and Akimidze announced the start of a new phase of the legal battle last week. During a meeting with journalists on October 17, they said they would use his arguments against current owner Kibar Khalvashi and filed a lawsuit on the same day.

One of the demands of the founders of Rustavi 2, apart from a fair trial, was that the 60% share of the TV company, for which they were appealing to the court, should be frozen during the proceedings.

Dvali and Akimidze say that they are beginning a long and difficult road to get back the TV channel.

Jarji Akimidze called Tbilisi City Court's decision to begin litigation and seize 60% of Rustavi 2's shares a "pleasant surprise."

“We cannot complain about more [than 60%] because it does not belong to us,” Akimidze told reporters. According to him, the judgment of the court does not constitute a threat to the broadcasting of Rustavi 2, since it is only a matter of saying that the owner of the television company cannot sell its shares until the court has brought an end to the dispute.

“We will fight until the end on every level of jurisdiction,” said Dvali.

Paata Salia, director of R2 TV, also says that the freezing of 60 percent of the company's shares will not interfere with the activity of television.

He said the channel's founders, who had sought the seizure of the disputed shares, were misinformed that Kibar Khalvashi might be planning to sell the channel. Khalvashi is now investing money and efforts in strengthening Rustavi 2 and is no longer thinking about selling it, says the company's director.

Businessman Kibar Khalvashi returned Rustavi 2 in the summer of this year.

Since the European Court of Human Rights dismissed Rustavi 2's lawsuit on July 18, Georgia's Supreme Court's 2017 ruling in favor of Khalvashi has been upheld in Georgia. On July 30, Kibar Khalvashi offered the founders and former owners of the company, David Dvali and Jarji Akimidze a 40% share, which they declined.

Dvali and Akimidze say that in 2004 the United National Movement forced them to give up the shares of Rustavi 2. In the same year, Kibar Khalvashi became the owner of the channel, which he claims he was forced to buy and also was forcefully made to give it up in 2006.