OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said on August 11 that “disproportionate and excessive” court order to freeze Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV’s assets in a dispute over the broadcaster’s ownership may pose a threat to free media and media pluralism.
“The court injunction may negatively affect Rustavi ’s ability to operate freely,” Mijatović said. “The decision is disproportionate and excessive and may constitute a threat to media pluralism in Georgia.”
“I call on the authorities to their utmost to ensure media pluralism in the country,” Mijatović said.
OSCE said that its media freedom representative has raised the case of Rustavi 2 TV with the Georgian authorities on several occasions in the past.
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Kibar Khalvashi, who co-owned Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 television station in 2004-2006, has filed a lawsuit seeking to claim back his shares in the broadcaster. As an interim measure pending verdict, the Tbilisi City Court judge Tamaz Urtmelidze ordered asset freeze, which bans Rustavi 2 TV’s current shareholders to sell shares, as well as to sell or rent out broadcast equipment, vehicles and other property owned by the company; executive powers of its general director and chief financial officer have also been limited. The judge rejected applicant’s request for freezing broadcaster’s bank accounts.