22 Jul 2019 15:49

Tbilisi court rejects ex-Georgian Defense Minister Okruashvili's lawsuit against new owner of Rustavi 2 TV company

TBILISI. July 22 (Interfax) - The Tbilisi City Court ruled on Monday to decline a motion by former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili on freezing the Rustavi 2 television company's stake, which has belonged to businessman Kivar Khalvashi and his company Panorama since July 18.

"The court declined our motion on the funny pretext that we had to file this motion with the court along with a claim that the entire stake of Rustavi 2 belongs to me. We will file such a motion with the court in the near future and might possibly demand again that the stake in the TV company hastily registered in Khalvashi's name be frozen," Okruashvili told journalists.

Okruashvili insisted that Rustavi 2's new owner Khalvashi was merely his authorized representative, in whose name he had earlier registered the TV company.

"Khalvashi and I drew up a notarized document in Berlin in 2010, under which Khalvashi became only a formal owner of Rustavi 2. Expert examinations of this document have confirmed its authenticity three times," Okruashvili said.

Rustavi 2 was founded in 1994 and has changed its owners more than ten times since then. Its former owners include the company Degson Limited registered in the British Virgin Islands. Some Georgian media have claimed this company belongs to former President Mikheil Saakashvili, which he has categorically denied.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on July 18 to uphold judgments by Georgian courts that all Rustavi 2 shares belonged to its former owner, Georgian businessman Kibar Khalvashi.

Immediately after this decision was proclaimed, Khalvashi registered the Rustavi 2 stake in his name with the Georgian Civil Register. He additionally dismissed Nika Gvaramia as the TV company's CEO and appointed his lawyer Paata Salia in his stead.

It was reported earlier that Khalvashi had filed a motion with a court demanding that Rustavi 2 be returned to him, arguing that he had to cede it at a rock-bottom price under pressure from a former administration led by President Mikheil Saakashvili. Georgian courts granted Khalvashi's motion, but the ECHR suspended these judgments in March 2017.

Rustavi 2 recently found itself in the limelight following scandalous remarks insulting Russian President Vladimir Putin which a host of the TV company, Giorgi Gabunia, made on July 7.