Rustavi 2 – No Lessons Learned By Georgian Governments

Tbilisi City Court on the evening of November 5 terminated the right of the General Director of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia, to rule the Television Company, appointing two outsiders as provisional heads of Georgia’s largest TV Company until the Constitutional Court makes a final decision on ownership.

Judge Tamaz Urtmelidze ruled that Kibar Khalvashi’s immediate takeover has to be reflected in civil registry documentation before it is binding.

Davit Dvali, a former co-owner of the company, and Revaz Sakevarishvili, the Deputy Director of rival TV Company Imedi, have been appointed provisional heads of Rustavi 2.

Rustavi 2’s current management consider the ruling unlawful based on the Constitutional Court’s ruling three days prior in which it temporarily suspended the government’s right to immediately enforce decisions in first instance courts if they have been appealed to a higher instance court.

Nika Gvaramia posted on his Facebook page: “Congratulations, my friends. Dictatorship has now been officially established in Georgia.”

Following the decision, Gvaramia held an emergency briefing saying that the government has eradicated even traces of democracy in Georgia, reversing the country’s course from Euro-Atlantic integration towards Russia’s Eurasian Union.

Some influential representatives of Civil Society and Non-Governmental organizations in Georgia published a joint statement naming the court’s ruling concerning the replacement of Rustavi 2’s top management ‘unlawful’.

According to the statement, the decision destroys the editorial independence of Rustavi 2, fundamentally undermines the freedom of media, ruins media pluralism in the country and has implications for the challenging of Georgia’s constitutional order and stability.

“Maintaining Rustavi 2 as a critical TV channel is essential for Georgia’s democracy, especially in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2016,” the statement from Georgian NGOs reads.

Rustavi 2 also received international support from such figures as the US Ambassador to Georgia and Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Janos Herman, both of whom expressed deep concern over Rustavi 2’s recent developments.

According to Herman, adherence to the rule of law, democracy and principals of media freedom are important for the EU and, in this direction, the European Union has repeatedly helped Georgia.

“It is important not only to preserve the achievements that Georgia has in terms of the democratic, the rule of law and freedom of the media, but to take the next steps forward.”


The situation in the country, especially surrounding Rustavi 2, is dire. By ‘dire,’ Georgian and international experts as well as the media and civil society mean that the fight is not being waged in law, but through the political interests of the government. In watching the flood of statements by almost all competent and powerful international and local organizations, one could get the impression that only the Georgian Dream and the government in general believe that the case of Rustavi 2 is an argument between two private entities.

Meanwhile, the Georgian government seems to be losing her golden time to advance her democracy and think forward instead of falling into the same pool the previous UNM government did when Imedi TV was massacred in November 2007. Remarkably, the Imedi case became one of the top arguments for Georgia-sceptic European countries not to grant MAP to Georgia at the NATO Bucharest Summit 2008. Curiously, the next NATO Summit of Warsaw is approaching. Is the history being repeated? No lessons learnt by the Georgian governments, it seems.

Zviad Adzinbaia

12 November 2015 22:09