Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the Saakashvili administration former insider and former ambassador to Moscow, who has recently lashed out at former allies said although he was not going into politics, he was setting up a foundation to address, among other things, media freedom in the country.
“The goal of this foundation will be to create fora for public discussions and forming public opinion and public consensus on where are we moving to and what we want and how we should move towards our goals. Another priority would be media issues… and the third priority is business,” Kitsmarishvili said adding that the business was in a very difficult condition now. “I will cooperate over these issues with the opposition, with the authorities.”
“I am an opponent of the authorities over various issues, but I do not see myself in the politics, I see myself in the civil society,” he told a program of the Tbilisi-based FM radio station, Ucnobi; the program is simulcast by Kavkasia TV.
Kitsmarishvili, who is a founder and former owner of the Rustavi 2 TV, has claimed in the interview that part of shares into the television station was formally transferred to its current general director, Irakli Chikovani, a week ago.
Before that, he has claimed, President Saakashvili held bearer share certificate of an offshore company which is registered in the Marshal Islands and which owns 55% of Rustavi 2 and Mze TVs’ shares.
Rustavi 2 TV and Mze TV, according to documents submitted to the Georgian National Communication Commission, are owed by GIG and GeoMedia Group. GIG, owns a 45% share of both stations. Intelligence chief Gela Bezhuashvili’s brother, lawmaker Davit Bezhuashvili, is a founding member of the group. The remaining shares in both Rustavi 2 TV and Mze TV are owned by GeoMedia Group. The only information available on the company is that it is registered in the Marshall Islands, but no public information is available who is behind that company.
“Bearer shares of that offshore company were, literally, in the Saakashvili’s safe and I am serious when I say that; I know that for sure,” Kitsmarishvili has claimed.
In a newspaper interview in March, 2008, Irakli Chikovani, the general director of Rustavi 2 TV, said when asked about the television station’s ownership: “I don’t think it is necessary to go into the details.”
Kitsmarishvili also said that in 2004 he was forced by the authorities to give up his shares into the Rustavi 2 TV.