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Satellite Van for Ivanishvili's Planned TV Channel 'Damaged'


Billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili's office said in a statement on Tuesday, that a satellite van for remote live news reports intended for his planned new TV channel had been "damaged on purpose" while in customs terminal in Georgia.

The van worth of EUR 450,000, involving mobile production control room, purchased from Lithuania-based company, TVC, was shipped to Batumi on February 9. Ivanishvili's press office said in the statement that satellite van was taken for customs clearance, but the authorities did not allow anyone responsible for the cargo or representative from Igrika, a company owned by Ivanishivli's wife which plans the TV channel, to attend the procedures. Five hours later, it said, the satellite van passed the customs control zone, but its equipment was damaged and no longer functioning.

The statement said that there was "reasonable ground for suspicion, that the mobile satellite station was damaged on purpose."

It said that before shipment the satellite van was inspected by SGS, the world's largest inspection services company, which showed that equipment "was in perfect order."

In January Ivanishvili’s Cartu Group, a holding uniting the billionaire's Georgia-based companies and charitable organizations, complained that its shipments were subject of thorough scrutiny at customs, not seen before Ivanishvili’s decision to go into politics.

On January 6 some executives of the companies from Cartu Group met with representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in Tbilisi and telling them that some shipments for their companies were “deliberately damaged” in customs terminals; at that meeting the representatives of Cartu Group presented conclusions from SGS showing that eight LiveU’s portable video-over-cellular transmitters were damaged.

Ivanishvili's press office said on February 14, that the damage of satellite van's equipment was yet another "episode in the violent politics of the government against the Georgian media."

The Georgian Revenue Service has denied as "incomprehensible and unacceptable" allegations by billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili that a satellite van, intended for his planned TV channel, was "damaged on purpose" while undergoing customs clearance in Batumi.

Ivanishvili's press office said in a statement on February 14, that the van worth EUR 450,000, equipped with mobile production control room and systems for remote live news reports, which was shipped in the Batumi port on February 9, was "detained" for about five hours and authorized representatives of the cargo barred from attending the customs inspection procedures.

The Revenue Service, the agency under the Ministry of Finance, which unites tax and customs services, said in a written statement on Wednesday, that Mercedes van, belonging to Igrika - a company, owned by Ivanishvili's wife, which plans to launch the new TV channel - was shipped on February 9 and underwent standard customs procedures.

It said that representatives of Igrika did not ask for attending the inspection procedures.

The Revenue Service said, that customs officers carried out "surface inspection" of the van.

"The van was opened only to inspect its rear area," the agency said, adding that it was a standard procedure applied to any other vehicle "in order to prevent import of undeclared cargo".

It said that the van was taken by its owner from terminal about five hours later on the same day, February 9, and Igrika's representatives did not file any complaint about alleged damage of the cargo.

The Revenue Service said it had learnt about damage of the equipment only five days later, on February 14, when Ivanishvili's representatives publicly voiced their allegations.

"None of Igrika's representative has appealed the Revenue Service with a complaint about damage of the cargo in a period between February 9 and February 14," the agency said.

"The Revenue Service acts in line with rules set by the law and allegations about possible damage of cargo in the Batumi port are incomprehensible and unacceptable for us," it said in the statement.


Photo of interpressnews: Satellite Van which happened to be damaged after going through the customs service belongs to the company under the ownership of Ivanishvili’s wife which is going to start broadcasting under the name 9th Channel. Ivanishvili closed the channel under the  same name in 2004.

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