U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson remarks on Rustavi 2 case (June 10)

Excerpted from U.S. Department of State’s Daily Press Briefing in Washington, D.C. on June 10

QUESTION:   European and U.S. officials – among them, American ambassador in Tbilisi – made a lot of statements about largest television station, Rustavi 2.  Shareholders of this television company lost appeal today in court of appeals in Tbilisi.  Opposition and some NGOs say that this is a takeover of television station just four months before elections.  I was wondering if you have any reaction on that, please.

MR TONER:  Sure.  You’re talking about the Tbilisi appeals court, right – the decision they took on Rustavi 2 ownership.  Well, again, my understanding of this is that the Tbilisi appeals court decided to uphold the ruling of a lower court that, in fact, transferred ownership of Rustavi 2 to the claimant.  And our understanding is also that Rustavi 2 management will stay in place until the appeals process has been exhausted.   I guess we would just say that it’s important to bear in mind that freedom of media, political pluralism, independence of the judiciary, are essential foundations in any democracy and remain critical to Georgia’s successful Euro-Atlantic decision.  So we would just call on all sides in this particular case to exercise restraint and to work to resolve the case through judicial process in a way that supports Georgia’s democratic development‎.