Ex-owners of TV Rustavi 2 initiate lawsuit against present shareholders

Newsroom of broadcasting company Rustavi 2. Photo by Rustavi 2.
Agenda.ge, 07 Aug 2015 - 00:46, Tbilisi,Georgia

"As Prime Minister and as a citizen, I fully support any kind restoration of justice but in my opinion this is a controversy of two subjects which should go before judges at the court,” Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili told local media while responding to the developments about Rustavi 2, a privately owned broadcasting company. 

The ex-owner of Rustavi 2, Georgian businessman Qibar Khalvashi, announced via his attorneys that he had initiated a lawsuit against the present shareholders of the company.

At a press conference at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel in Tbilisi on August 5, Khalvashi's lawyers claimed their client purchased the broadcasting company for $7 million USD in 2004 but was forced under strong pressure of the Saakashvili-led government and ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili to concede his property to the new owner in December 2006.

The attorneys also stated that Khalvashi demanded a lein be instated on the company shares of the present owners.

The lawyers emphasized that the controversy was only about the share of ownership of Rustavi 2 and they guaranteed the editorial independence of Rustavi 2 journalists if Khalvashi won the case. 

Meanwhile Rustavi 2 announced this evening that company-owned cars had been seized by Georgia’s National Bureau of Enforcement.

The ownership of Rustavi 2 has very controversial history.

"Between 2004 and 2012, Rustavi 2 changed owners approximately 20 times, often in controversial deals that had a political flavor, involving people with close links to [then] president Mikheil Saakashvili and to officials of the United National Movement-led government,” read a survey published by non-governmental organisation Transparency International Georgia.

The founders of the broadcasting company David Dvali and Jarji Akimidze also are preparing a lawsuit against the present owners of Rustavi 2. More details will be revealed next week, the pair revealed today. 

Rustavi 2 was established in 1994 by three shareholders: Dvali, Akimidze and the late Erosi Kitsmarishvili, who was found dead in his car in an underground parking lot in his home in central Tbilisi on July 15, 2014. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia is still investigating this case.

Meanwhile Khalvashi moved to Germany in 2009 after he was granted political asylum.

Tbilisi City Court has five days to start a trial into the case.