Chairman of the Parliament Zurab Zhvania held a special briefing for the journalists, dedicated to the intrusion of the State Security Ministry’s employees into the office of Rustavi 2 broadcasting company on October 30. Statement of the Chairman has been broadcasted by all TV companies in Georgia. Below is the transcript of the statement given without editing:
“I considered it necessary to make a special statement regarding the events around Rustavi 2. I would like to ask every information source and journalist to distribute this statement without editing and modifications for I believe that events, which happen now are most important for the future development of our country.
Today for the first time during all these years unprecedented offensive has taken place against the freedom of expression. I regard events in Rustavi 2 office as a definite political revenge, political persecution.
Rustavi 2 is a leader of free mass media in our country. We may agree or disagree with the point of view of the journalists of this broadcasting company, but in every particular case this point of view is always different from the official position of the Government. This is a basic idea of the freedom of press and freedom itself.
As you have been observing these days, officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs made direct threat against Rustavi 2.
If there is a case of financial infringements, than I would like to emphasize that the prerogative should be given to proper taxation authorities. A couple of weeks ago these authorities completed assessment of financial activities of the company. But today, to my great surprise rather large number of employees of the State Security Ministry entered into the office of Rustavi 2 and demanded re-examination of all documentation etc. This leaves feeling that we are dealing with nothing else but political revenge and political persecutions.
With great sense of regret I would like to mention, that all recent events herald possible degeneration of the declared fight against corruption into the battle against the civil society, freedom of speech and freedom in general. Those who have planned this battle wish to eliminate any different opinion and allow the clans, which have already acquired means of control over the economy, to achieve the ultimate domination. Unfortunately, this is a familiar scenario, used in other countries already. Therefore I started my statement with the words: Today the fate of the county is being decided. What it would be like? Would we prove capable of making a choice, deciding our own fate?
I would say that I do not regard the actions taken by the State Security Ministry as an action against Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company only. These actions are against the most important achievements of our society: freedom of speech, freedom of mass media. Decision to take such an action equals political suicide for those officials who planned and implemented it. If anyone in the Government decided to oppose not only the journalists but also the whole Georgian society, then my friends and me would oppose this part of the Government. If any part of the Government desires to draw a line between itself and the society, then we would be on the other side of the line together with people. I would like to declare this categorically, loudly and clearly.
Thank you very much. This was all I wanted to say regarding today’s events.”