The Georgian government is trying to take over Imedi TV station with the help of “imposters,” Badri Patarkatsishvili's widow, Inna Gudavadze, said on March 19.
“Imposters have claimed ownership of Imedi and tried to sell it to the Government,” she said in an open letter addressed to “the Georgian People.” “But they can not [do that] because I and my family are the rightful owners of Imedi. In order not to make the [already] tense political situation worse, during all this time I have tried to negotiate with the Government, including the chair[person] of Parliament [Nino Burjanadze]. But I still do not have an answer.”
“Imedi is not on air because the Georgian government does not want to allow it,” Gudavadze said.
The Georgian newspapers Alia and Rezonansi reported on March 18 that Imedi TV shares had been formally registered under the name of Patarkatsishvili’s friend, Gogi Jaoshvili. The latter, however, according to the reports, transferred the shares to Joseph Kay, alias Joseph Kakalashvili, who, according to the Alia, is a stepson of Patarkatsishvili’s aunt. The Alia claimed that the Georgian authorities were negotiating with Kay.
In an interview with the Rezonansi on March 19, Bidzina Baratashvili, director general of Imedi TV, said that he had “heard” that 70% of the shares had been transferred to Kay. He said, however, that he had not seen any documentary evidence.
“My family owns Imedi and we will challenge in the courts any attempt to steal Imedi", Gudavadze said.
She also said that she was “determined to put Imedi back on air.” She said her family had no intention of going into politics and she wanted Imedi TV to be managed by “an international independent media company” and to have a board of trustees “representing the people of Georgia to ensure balance.”
“I ask you all to support me in my campaign to get Imedi back on air,” Gudavadze writes. “We have lost Badri. We must not lose Imedi.”
Nino Burjanadze, the parliamentary chairperson, strongly denied any official interference or involvement in matters related with Imedi TV.
“As far as I know, this is an internal family dispute and it should be resolved by the lawyers,” she told journalist on March 18. “Nobody can seize anything from them [the Patarkatsishvili family]. This is not only a Georgian company. You know that very serious foreign companies and lawyers are involved in this case and it should be settled within the family. We have nothing to do with it.”
Giorgi Khaindrava, an individual member of the eight-party opposition coalition, said that the opposition planned a protest rally on March 24 to protest against, what he called, the authorities’ attempts to seize Imedi TV.