OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said that excessive court measures against the Georgian television channel Rustavi 2 based on an ownership dispute 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.”
According to reports, on August 5 the Tbilisi City Court issued an order freezing the assets of Rustavi 2 as an interim measure pending a verdict. The court order followed the filing of a civil lawsuit by Kibar Khalvashi, a local businessman, to reclaim shares he claims he was forced to give up in 2006. Khalvashi also reportedly asked the court to freeze Rustavi 2 TV’s bank accounts but this claim was dismissed.
“I call on the authorities to their utmost to ensure media pluralism in the country,” Mijatović said.
The Representative has raised the case of Rustavi TV 2 with the authorities in Georgia on several occasions in the past.