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Unsettled affairs at Maestro

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, January 4
There is an ongoing dispute at television channel Maestro TV. The Turkish company which had been transmitting the Maestro TV signal throughout Georgia and Europe, switched off the signal on January 3.

Erosi Kitsmarishvili (member of the Georgian opposition and owner of Rustavi Management company with whom Maestro had signed an agreement) will not be able to use Maestro TV’s satellite signal, Mamuka Ghlonti stated and underlined that it happened due to the television channel founder’s request. “We recently asked the Turkish company to switch off the signal and received a positive response from them.” Thus according to him, the casting which was declared by Kitsmarishvili for channel employees is a “fairytale” and nothing more.

It is not the only problem the channel is having, Rustavi Management Company and its head released a special statement calling the detention of two of their employees a “provocation”.

According to them, two employees of the company were attacked while driving a car on 1 January.

“The attackers stopped the car and physically and verbally abused them. They were later taken to a cemetery where physical violence was exerted on them again. Now they are in a preliminary detention centre,” reads the statement.

However The Ministry of Internal Affairs released a statement with absolutely different content on January 2, saying that several items were taken from the yard of the Maestro TV company. Police officers, with the purpose of finding out whether the mentioned act was legal or not, attempted to stop a vehicle loaded with items, however the driver ignored the request of the police and in an attempt to escape, crashed into a police vehicle deliberately. Said vehicle was then seized by police. The Tbilisi Police Main Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has already launched an investigation into the case.

The issue is controversial and interesting for Georgians, especially residents of Tbilisi, as Maestro, before the misunderstanding between the founders and the head of the Maestro managing company, covered Tbilisi and is considered an opposition TV channel. Despite the fact that Kitsmarishvili is a representative of the opposition, the greater part of Georgian opposition parties consider Maestro issues to be cases of the authorities attempting to create obstacles for a media outlet which is not controlled by the Government, and that Kitsmarishvili is a puppet in the authorities’ hands. Such statements are denied by the Government, which claims that the opposition ties all negative issues to them and that there are some commercial and financial problems between Kitsmarishvili and the television company’s founders in which the Government’s interference is zero.