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Georgian journalists say independence threatened at TV station - RFE/RL

21.07.2019, 19:48
Photo credit: screenshot from the video of radiosvoboda.org
Georgian journalists staged a live on-air protest, after a European Court decision paved the way for the Rustavi-2 TV station, seen as an opposition channel, to pass into the ownership of a businessman they see as close to the government, as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Georgian journalists staged a live, on-air protest after the ownership of Rustavi-2 TV station was passed to  a businessman they say is close to government. The protest followed a ruling by the European court of human rights on July 18 restoring ownership to its previous owner Kibar Khalvashi. Th station is seen as sympathetic to the country's political opposition. The journalists said the ruling was based on a misunderstang and could be a death-knell to thestation's  editorial independence. "I am sure that after Kibar Khalvashi comes to the channel, it will become a pro-government media outlet and we do not have desire to work in such media", one of the journalist form Rustavi-2 said. Rustavi-2 general director was immediately fired and his replacement Paata Salia arrived at the station. He said he was hoping to win the confidence of the employees. "Trust will come and the journalist will see nobody touch them. I don't plan any staff changes", Salia said. Earlier, it was reported, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has upheld a verdict by Georgia’s Supreme Court on restoring the ownership of the country’s main opposition channel, Rustavi-2, to its previous owner, as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Georgia’s Supreme Court in March 2017 backed a legal ruling that broadcaster Rustavi-2 should be returned to its former co-owner, businessman Kibar Khalvashi, who is seen as close to the government. Khalvashi has said he was forced to give up the ownership of Rustavi-2 under pressure from the authorities during the rule of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
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