Members of the United National Movement organised a demonstration in support of Rustavi 2 TV on February 10. The demonstration started at Rustaveli Metro Station and the crowd proceeded to the Supreme Court of Georgia. Students and some celebrities also joined the demonstration; demonstrators held placards with messages of “Solidarity with Rustavi 2.” The demonstration came as a response to the on-going case over the ownership of the Rustavi 2 channel, and to recent investigations that there has been “rough intrusion in the judges’ work” who were presiding over the case.
Rustavi 2 and several opposition parties, namely the United National Movement, see the ownership dispute as a political move to take over the broadcaster, as the channel is known to be critical of the Georgian Dream government. “If we don’t defend our rights today, if we don’t defend Rustavi 2 today, we will be living in Russia’s backyard. The protection of Rustavi 2, of the Supreme Court, and of our county is in our hands,” UNM member Zaza Bibilashvili spoke at the demonstration.
On February 2, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia revealed documents related to the investigation into alleged intervention in the work of the Supreme Court judges presiding over the Rustavi 2 case. The Prosecutor’s Office says that the documentation confirms there was intervention in the judges’ work. The documents released by the Prosecutor’s Office point to alleged intervention not from the government, but from former President Mikheil Saakashvili and his affiliates.
On November 22, judges Besarion Alavidze and Paata Katamadze passed the Rustavi 2 case to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court. Rustavi 2 is appealing the decisions made by Tbilisi City Court and the Appellate Court on granting 100% of the TV company’s shares to former owner Kibar Khalvashi and his company Panorama. Khalvashi’s sister, Phaty Khalvashi, is a member of the Georgian Dream party and an MP for the Kobuleti District.