Georgian Justice Minister dismisses allegations of Rustavi 2, cites European Court’s decision

Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani says that everything dependს on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights ინ the Rustavi 2 private broadcaster ownership dispute. Photo: Justice Ministry press office., 08 May 2019 - 18:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani has dismissed the allegations of Rustavi 2 private broadcaster director Nika Gvaramia regarding the government’s interest in shutting down the opposition-leaning channel and stated that no decision might be enforced by state agencies concerning the channel Rustavi 2 until the European Court of Human Rights delivers a verdict in the broadcaster’s ownership issue.

Tsulukiani made the statement in response to Gvaramia, who said yesterday that Nino Nizharadze, who inherited nine percent of shares of Rustavi 2 – one of the largest private companies in Georgia – from her husband is demanding 28 million GEL (about $10.3m/€9.2m) in court.

Director of Rustavi 2 Nika Gvaramia believes this is the ruling party’s “new phase of attack” against the TV company. Photo: Rustavi2. 

The plaintiff is demanding compensation for damages she suffered because of mismanagement, while Gvaramia says that Nizharadze is fulfilling the demands of the Georgian Dream government “to silence the channel.”

Tsulukiani cited the decision of the ECHR made in March 2017, which temporarily suspended the enforcement of the verdict of the Georgian Supreme Court also in 2017, which returned 100 per cent of the channel shares to its former owner Kibar Khalvashi.

Gvaramia and Rustavi 2 appealed to the ECHR’s to make such a decision and “protect them from the government and their man-Khalvashi.”

I want to remind everyone that none of the measures will be taken regarding the channel until the ECHR delivers its verdict,” Tsulukiani said.

In most cases, the ECHR requires years to discuss and deliver verdicts on such cases.

The ownership of Rustavi 2 has a very controversial history

  • Established in 1994, the broadcasting company changed ownership numerous times between 2004 and 2012.
  • In March 2017 Georgia’s Supreme Court delivered a verdict in favor of Its former shareholder 2004-2006) Kibar Khalvashi, who had filed a lawsuit in 2015.
  • A few days later the European Court of Human Rights suspended the enforcement of the Georgian Supreme Court’s verdict.
  • Currently 91% of the TV company’s shares is owned by brothers Giorgi and Levan Karamanishvili.