Rustavi 2 TV Owners Reject Court-Appointed Managers’ Proposal

Majority shareholders of the Rustavi 2 TV have turned down a proposal from court-appointed temporary managers of the broadcaster and said that they “have nothing to talk about” with “government-appointed political censors.”

Temporary managers of Rustavi 2 TV, appointed by the court on November 5, have offered current owners of the broadcaster to name “any” person to whom interim managers would grant power of attorney with full authority to perform all the executive functions required for smooth day-to-day operation of the TV station. The proposal, as they said, aimed at preventing leadership vacuum in the company amid ongoing litigation over Rustavi 2 ownership dispute and interim injunction in a form of replacing broadcaster’s management.

“In the light of unprecedented reaction from the Georgian public and international community, Ivanishvili’s government, which is completely beyond the constitutional framework, retreated and offered us through a third party naming a candidate, acceptable for us, who would be granted by so called ‘temporary managers’ ‘full authority’ to manage the TV company,” reads a written statement of 91% shareholders of Rustavi 2 TV, brothers Giorgi and Levan Karamanishvili, released late on Saturday evening.

“Ivanishvili’s government” is a reference to allegations that the government is controlled by ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili from behind the scene. Rustavi 2 TV ex-owner Kibar Khalvashi’s lawsuit seeking to reclaim shares in the broadcaster is seen by Rustavi 2 TV and many opposition parties as a politically motivated ploy by the government to take over and silence the opposition-minded channel. 

“Like in all other aspects of ongoing attack aimed at seizing of Rustavi 2, this proposal [of temporary managers] too contains an obvious cynicism common to Russian political mentality, wherein the party, which itself is the only source of problem, hypocritically expresses desire to help solve the very same problem. Our people have become victims of such cynicism for multiple times in the past, including in our homeland, Abkhazia,” reads the statement Levan and Giorgi Karamanishvili, little-known figures to the wider public in Georgia who are believed to be close associates of former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

“Of course we are not going to legitimize political censors through cooperating with them, who have been appointed by the government through circumventing the constitution,” reads the statement.

“In case of desire, the Georgian government has all the legal means to remove Rustavi 2’s problems, created by the government itself. We continue struggle along with the Georgian public and the international community with all the available legal means,” broadcaster’s current owners said.

Davit Dvali and Revaz Sakevarishvili were appointed as temporary managers of the broadcaster through a controversial November 5 decision of the court.

The ruling was delivered by Tbilisi City Court judge Tamaz Urtmelidze upon the motion from Kibar Khalvashi, ex-owner of Rustavi 2 TV who is trying to reclaim his shares of the TV channel through a lawsuit, which he has won in the court of first instance, but which will be appealed by current owners of the broadcaster.

With the same decision on November 5, the judge suspended authority of Rustavi 2 TV general director and financial director, Nika Gvaramia and Kakha Damenia, respectively.

Lawyers representing current majority shareholders of the Rustavi 2 TV plan to appeal this decision on change of management too.

Gvaramia, who condemned the decision as illegal, has refused to obey the order and to leave his office in the Rustavi 2 TV headquarters.

But no operation, requiring authorization of top managers can be performed by the company as both Gvaramia and financial director Damenia are suspended and temporary managers, who replaced them, are not able to actually assume their duties – situation, which the both sides agree is fraught with risk of having negative effect on company’s day-to-day operations and logistics.

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