Rustavi 2 Assures Gov’t Is behind a New Dispute

Government-critical Rustavi 2 TV claims the authorities stand behind a new court dispute against them, initiated by the owner of the 9% of shares of the company, Nino Nizharadze.

The information was released by the Director General of the TV channel, Nika Gvaramia. According to him, Nizharadze is asking for a total of Gel 26 million for “damage caused to the company” by the controlling shareholders and the director general.

Gvaramia says that government and the founder and Chair of the ruling party Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili want the TV Company to be broke in order to silence the critical voice.

He claims the “new phase of the attack” is a fight against Georgian democracy and freedom of speech.

Gvaramia says that the channel will continue working in an emergency mode and “never give up.”

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

Nizharadze denies any political grounds of her suit and threatens to sue Gvaramia for defamation.

This is not the first dispute against Rustavi 2 TV, which is often affiliated with the former ruling party the United National Movement, established by the ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

91% shares of the company are owned by brothers Levan and Giorgi Karamanishvili. However, in 2015, Kibar Khalvashi, a former co-owner of the TV channel, filed a lawsuit claiming his shares were illegally taken away from him by the UNM.

In March 2017, after the case passed all the instances of the court system in the country, the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled in favor of Khalvashi and gave him the total shares of the broadcaster.

The following day, the European Court of Human Rights suspended enforcement of the verdict.

By Thea Morrison

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