17 May 2017 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 25 Aug 2015 Georgia

Georgian TV Channel Rustavi 2 Faces Crippling Court Measures in Civil Case

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ
Partner EFJ/IFJ AEJ
On 5 August 2015, the Tbilisi City Court issued an order freezing the assets of the country’s largest private media outlet, the television channel Rustavi 2, as an interim measure pending a verdict. The court order concerns a civil lawsuit lodged by Kibar Khalvashi, a local businessman, to recover shares he claims he was forced to give up in 2006.
According to the Independent Association of Georgian Journalists (IAGJ), between 2004 and 2012, Rustavi 2 changed owners approximately 20 times, often in controversial deals involving people with close links to ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili. The TV channel, which is now the only major channel perceived to be close to the opposition, is facing excessive legal threats: over a hundred journalists may lose their jobs and news programs may be suspended.
The court decision, based on an ownership dispute, is disproportionate and may negatively affect media pluralism in Georgia. The journalists’ organisations call on the Georgian authorities to ensure a transparent and fair process in handling the case, without any interference from politically affiliated groups.
Updates
17 May 2017
On 7 March 2017, the European Court of Human Rights adopted an interim measure asking the Georgian Government to stay the execution of the judgment given by the Supreme Court of Georgia on 2 March 2017 until further notice.
03 Mar 2017
On 2 March 2017, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled in favour of the former co-owner of Rustavi 2 TV, ordering a change in ownership.
01 Dec 2016
On 10 June 2016, Tbilisi’s Appeals Court upheld a City Court ruling over the transfer of the ownership of the TV station to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. Rustavi’s current owners appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. On 21 November 2016, the three judges of the Supreme Court decided to hand the Rustavi 2 ownership case to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court.
State replies
24 Sep 2015
Follow-ups
06 Mar 2017
On 3 March 2017, the European Court of Human Rights suspended, under Rule 39 (interim measures), Georgia's Supreme Court’s decision to transfer ownership of Rustavi 2 TV.
03 Mar 2017
OSCE Media Freedom Representative calls the Surpeme Court 's decision a "disappointing move and huge blow to media pluralism in Georgia".
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