Police raid on warehouses at several locations across the county to seize Global TV’s satellite dishes and receivers shows that the authorities are “in state of complete agony”, the Georgian Dream opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, said in a statement.
The Georgian chief prosecutor’s office said that seizure of satellite dishes was part of an alleged vote-buying investigation and aimed at “safeguarding electoral process from possible criminal interference” and at “preventing committing of crime”. It said that handing out of dishes to clients by cable and satellite television provider Global TV in which Ivanishvili’s brother is a shareholder “free of charge… may contain signs of a crime.”
The Georgian Dream opposition coalition said in the statement, that “the only reason” behind the ongoing investigation “is to prevent distribution of satellite dishes” in the provinces, where access to television stations other than major nationwide broadcasters is limited. Global TV has been distributing antennas to clients in the provinces under a scheme according to which clients were not required to pay any sum for twelve months with the payment of GEL 4 per month starting after a year. Dishes allow clients in the provinces to receive Channel 9, a television station co-owned by Ivanishvili’s wife, and another Tbilisi-based channel Maestro TV.
“Goal of the authorities is to maintain informational vacuum, which is created through television channels controlled by [the government]. It is not ruled out that the authorities’ next step will be shutting down of objective TV stations, because they [the authorities] have eventually crossed red line and are acting beyond any legal framework, resorting terror against democracy and free speech,” the Georgian Dream said.
It also said that the authorities actions against Global TV would “make it easier” for Georgia’s international partners “to make right conclusions” about the Georgian authorities.
“Hysteric actions by the authorities were not a surprise for the Georgian Dream. As the coalition leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has stated numerously, everything goes according to plan. The situation will change quite soon, the process is irreversible and will end by the victory of Georgian Dream in October,” the coalition said.