Minister of Education Aleksandre Jejelava commented that the ECHR decision to suspend the implementation of the Supreme Court of Georgia’s ruling regarding the ownership of Rustavi 2 was done “hastily.” On March 2nd, the Supreme Court made a decision to grant ownership of the Rustavi 2 TV company to former owner Kibar Khalvashi. The next day on March 3rd, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled to suspend the implementation of the Supreme Court decision; the ECHR chamber extend the suspension again on March 7th.
“[The ECHR] Judge made a decision hastily. The [Rustavi 2] company painted a picture of an apocalypse, as if Rustavi 2 is the only independent media outlet, and as if we should expect a tragedy in the streets of Tbilisi if the decision [of the Supreme Court of Georgia] would be implemented,” Georgia’s education minister, Aleksandre Jejelava, said in an interview with Georgian media outlet Kviris Palitra. “I understand that the Strasbourg court judge wouldn't take on such a responsibility. We should bear in mind that [an ECHR] decision made by seven judges would be a major hit on that one judge. It means that the Strasbourg court, as the most important institution, is making unbalanced decisions. Every self-respecting institution would think twice before making one decision one day, and then a different decision on another."
Georgia’s Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, has also previously pointed out that the ECHR decision was made by the one judge who was on duty, rather than by several judges: “According to the letter sent from the Strasbourg court, the decision was made individually, by the judge on duty; the surname we do not know (that’s the procedure), and in a way that we, the answering side, were not informed about and no information was asked from us.”
The Rustavi 2 ruling received wide international attention from diplomatic organizations and members of European Parliament. The EU Delegation to Georgia and the U.S. Embassy Tbilisi issued official statements raising concerns regarding freedom of media and freedom of speech in Georgia.
Tbilisi City Court and the Appellate Court of Georgia 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 of Georgia.