The Supreme Court of Georgia made a decision to grant ownership of the Rustavi 2 TV Company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. The decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia is final. Rustavi 2 held a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court while the court was in session, saying that they will not allow the government to change the editorial policy of the station. Several opposition parties have expressed their support for the TV company.
The case has attracted international attention. The Delegation of European Union to Georgia and the US Embassy in Tbilisi have already made official statements. Several European politicians have also commented on the issue, such as Estonian diplomat Eerik-Niiles Kross, who stated that the European Union should freeze the Georgia's liberalization until “the government orchestrated confiscation of Rustavi 2 is fully investigated.”
The Vice President of the EPP, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, has also associated Visa-free travel with the Supreme Court’s decision. He tweeted that "as expected, Georgia's government waited with takeover of Rustavi2, last independent TV until it got visa-free from naive EU”
On her twitter account, OSCE representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, stated that the decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia was a disappointing move:
Member of European Parliament and former Foreign Affairs Minister of Latvia, Sandra Kalniete, commented on the matter that “I regret the decision of the Georgia’s Supreme Court regarding Rustavi 2 as it will effectively limit the access of opposition voices to Georgian media. This decision hurts the image of Georgia. I call on the Georgian government to ensure that the media environment in Georgia remains free and open, and that opposition voices are heard. I hope that the constitutional majority in the Georgian parliament is conscious that pluralistic media are essential for Georgia’s European aspirations. The EPP Group in the European Parliament will continue to closely follow how Georgia upholds its commitments to political and media pluralism.”
Member of European Parliament Ana Gomes also stated that she is ‘sad and worried’ regarding the decision on Rustavi 2 and expressed concerns whether this will result in shrinking of pluralism.
Sweden's frontbencher MEP, Gunnar Hokmark also stated that ”The decision taken by the Supreme Court today is regrettable, and pose a serious threat to media plurality, editorial independence and transparent media in Georgia. Rustavi 2 must stay independent, and I call on the Georgian Constitutional Court to look into the proceedings of the case and allegations of Government pressure on judges of the Supreme Court.”
The Supreme Court of Georgia, started the hearing of the case on March 2. Tbilisi City Court and the Appellate Court of Georgia have previously decided to grant 100% ownership of the TV company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi; his sister has been an MP for the Georgian Dream party since 2012. Rustavi 2 applied to appeal the decisions to the Supreme Court. The decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia is the final one and cannot be appealed to another court in the country.