US Embassy encourages implementation of ECHR verdict in Rustavi 2 in “fair, apolitical’ manner

The US Embassy released a statement on the recent developments concerning Rustavi 2, following the ECHR verdict. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 20 Jul 2019 - 11:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United States Embassy in Georgia said the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the Rustavi 2 ownership dispute should be implemented “in a manner that is fair, apolitical, and allows for a multitude of opinions to be represented in the media.”

Freedom of speech and a media landscape representative of a plurality of views are foundations of democracy”, the US Embassy said.

Stressing that they have “watched carefully” the situation related to the ECHR ruling, the Embassy said the US “remains committed to helping Georgia protect freedom of speech and preserve a diverse media landscape”.

Paata Salia is new Director General of Rustavi 2. Photo: Nino Alavidze/ 

The ECHR ruling of July 18 effectively allowed the return of 100 per cent of the channel’s shares to its former owner Kibar Khalvashi, who argued that Rustavi 2 was illegally seized from him by the former United National Movement (UNM) government in 2006.

Paata Salia, who is also the lawyer of the new owner of Rustavi 2, Kibar Khalvashi, replaced Nika Gvaramia as the director general of Rustavi 2, promising not to interfere in the channel’s editorial policy.

Meanwhile, Former Defence Minister under the UNM leadership Irakli Okruashvili addressed Tbilisi City Court to freeze Rustavi 2 shares claiming that Khalvashi represented him when Rustavi 2 was bought ‘by him’ back in 2004 and that in real it belongs to him.