U.S. Department of State said that it takes seriously developments over Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV and actions that give the appearance of constricting media freedom is “disturbing.”
Rustavi 2 TV said on October 1 that a new court injunction in an ongoing ownership dispute, has effectively cut off a USD 6 million lifeline investment needed for sustaining broadcaster’s smooth operations. Rustavi 2 TV claims that a lawsuit by one of its former co-owners and consequent asset freeze – ordered by the court at first in respect of Rustavi 2 TV itself and then in respect of broadcaster’s majority shareholder company – is government orchestrated move aimed at taking over the opposition-minded television station.
Responding a question from Rustavi 2 TV journalist about, as he put it, the Georgian government “openly attacking” the TV station, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said during a daily press briefing on October 6: “We’re closely following the developments that you mentioned. I think we urge that any legal proceedings involving a media outlet, regardless of where but certainly in Georgia, be conducted at the highest standards of judicial due process and with respect for freedom of expression.”
“More broadly, over the past several years, the United States government and the international community have praised Georgia’s free and pluralistic media environment which has been recognized internationally as a model for the region,” he said.
“So actions that give the appearance of constricting that environment, constricting media freedoms or compromising that media pluralism, are, frankly, disturbing, and especially in the lead-up to parliamentary elections. So we therefore, we do take it seriously and we’re watching it,”
Asked to specify if the case in question is “disturbing”, Toner responded: “Yes.”