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European Court Rejects Complaint In Georgian Media Ownership Dispute


Kibar Khalvashi (file photo)

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.

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.

Critics say that Khalvashi's move is an attempt by the government to stifle political dissent in the media ahead of parliamentary polls scheduled for next year.

Rustavi-2 and its current owners said that the Supreme Court verdict, which upheld previous rulings by Georgian courts, including the Court of Appeals, had been unfair.

However, the ECHR ruled on July 18 that it did not find any violation of the Convention on Human Rights in the case of the ownership dispute.

The ECHR also did not uphold its own interim ruling, which prohibited the enforcement of the March 2017 decision by Georgia's Supreme Court.

Following the ECHR ruling, Georgia's Public Registry transferred the ownership of Rustavi-2 to Khalvashi, who announced that its director Nika Gvaramia, has been fired.

With reporting by