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(RFE/RL) 5 January 2006 -- Georgia's leading Rustavi-2 television company, which is considered close to the government, has bought the majority stake in another Tbilisi- based television.

In an announcement today, Rustavi-2 said it had bought 78 percent of shares in Mze (Sun) and will set up a new media holding, the largest in Georgia.

Rustavi-2 is owned by a businessman, Kibar Khalvashi, who Georgian media have identified as a close friend of Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili. It played a crucial role in endorsing and supporting the 2003 Rose Revolution, which brought Georgia's new leadership to power.

Mze came into the headlines earlier this year when it closed down a daily political talk show following criticism from members of the ruling party. The decision prompted the opposition to accuse the authorities of mounting pressure on the media. The ruling party denies the accusations.

(Civil Georgia/primenews.ge)
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