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US closely watching Rustavi 2 developments

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 22
The US Department of State is closely watching the developments around Rustavi 2 TV, a department spokesperson John Kirby has stated.

“We have already released a statement on this, and our position about media freedom is the same. We are closely watching these developments,” he said.

Rustavi 2, one of Georgia’s most influential TV channels, has become a subject of heavy debates recently, as the station's former owners are demanding their shares back, which - according to them - had been deprived from them under the previous state leadership.

The current management of Rustavi 2 stress that the process is politically motivated and the government aims to close the channel, since it is frequently critical of the current state authorities’ activities.

The opposition party, the United National Movement, fully shares the opinion that the government intends to close the channel.

Another parliamentary opposition group, the Free Democrats, support the channel in the process. However, its leader, the former Defence Minister Irakli Alasania, stresses that “Rustavi 2 is not an unbiased channel”.

“The channel is not impartial. However, it is free from governmental interference,” Alasania said.

The Minister of Finance, Nodar Khaduri, has stated that the United States position is important for the government and added that the government is not involved in the legal dispute of the channel and its former owners.

Of course, media freedom is very important. All sorts of media outlets should exist, and people should have the choice to decide what to watch.

It is also obvious that under the previous state leadership it would be impossible for the former owners of the channel to demand their shares back.

It is undoubtedly a dilemma – Georgia demands freedom of the press, but a former owner of a TV channel demanding their shares back is unprecedented.

How far the government should be involved is undoubtedly a relevant debate; whether it should refrain from commenting on the process entirely or demanding the affected side drop the case are proving to be contentious points with the public.

However, few would disagree that most important is the case being settled openly with an impartial verdict, without causing any further controversy. Verdicts are seldom satisfactory for everyone involved, and it is possible that the losing side will accuse the court of being biased or under pressure from outside actors.

The process is closely watched by many; the responsibility rests with the judges, but the significant attention on the case (both international and domestic) has undoubtedly increased the pressure on them to reach a suitable verdict.

Overall it is the right of every citizen to claim back his/her property. Everybody has to act according to the court decision. If it is internationally agreed that Georgian court system became much better than it was under the previous leadership of the country the court decision should be accepted and respected.