Statement of NGOs Regarding the Seizure of Rustavi 2 TV Company’s Assets

The signatory Non-governmental organizations express concern about current developments regarding the Rustavi 2 TV company’s ownership and a decision to seize the broadcaster’s assets that may disrupt a normal rhythm of activity of the most watchable Georgian TV company.

According to the Rustavi 2, the National Bureau of Enforcement has already seized the company’s assets on the basis of Kibar Khalvash’s claim.

Until now announcements have been repeatedly made about an expected legal dispute regarding the coownership of the broadcastingcompany by a number of people that include not only those who are directly linked to TV channel, but also top officials and politicians. High-level representatives of the government have often publicly criticized the editorial policy of Rustavi 2. In this setting, the first action having legal consequences has been taken against the company.

Although the dispute over the ownership of the Rustavi2 TV Channel belongs to the realm of private law, there is much ground to believe that the dispute is politically motivated. This reasonable doubt is reinforced by numerous statements made by representatives of the authorities. For free media and pluralism to develop in Georgia, it is crucial to dispel this doubt. To this end, it is necessary to conduct the legal process in an impartial and transparent manner and to ensure unimpeded operation of the broadcasting company. Such a development of events may prove extremely dangerous ahead of upcoming 2016 parliamentary election since pluralism and diversity of opinions are decisive factors for a democratic process to ensure fair and equal election environment.

The signatory non-governmental organizations express their support for the freedom of media in Georgia and will continue to keep a close watch on the developments of events surrounding Rustavi2.

 

Media Development Foundation - MDF

Georgian Democracy Initiative - GDI

Georgia’s Reforms Associates - GRASS

Tolerance and Diversity Institute - TDI

Aug/1507