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Journalists Will Hold a Protest Rally In Front Of the Parliament

Gela Mtivlishvili

Association of regional media and journalists working in the regions of Georgia will hold a protest rally in front of the Parliament building to support TV Company TV-25 on October 21, at 1:00 pm. According to the organizers, the protest rally will be preventive. According to the spread information, non-governmental organizations will join the protests rally.

Journalists request to discharge the TV Company from the debts that were accumulated when the company was not run by its legal owners.

Reportedly, Batumi City Court ordered TV-25 to pay 277 547 GEL. The department for revenues of Adjara Autonomous Republic demands the company to pay the debts accumulated during the governance of former leader of Adjara Autonomous Republic Aslan Abashidze. TV Company can appeal against the court’s decision within 14 days.

“The problems were artificially created by the Tax Inspection. The debts were imposed when Aslan Abahsidze was leader of Adjara Autonomous Republic and TV Company did not belong to its real owners. TV-25 is an independent TV company and they do not like it. We were broadcasting the programs of TV Company Maesrto. We prepare news program “Matsne”, Analytic program “Dialogue” and most important is that TV Company is open for everybody”, said Merab Merkviladze, the founder of the TV Company.

TV-25 is the only independent company in Adjara Autonomous Republic, which is broadcasting in Guria Region. According to Merkviladze, TV Company will appeal against the decision of Batumi City Court to higher instance and finally they may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Kutaisi Appeal Court spread special clarification about the decision of the Batumi City Court.

“Batumi City Court did not satisfy the appeal. The suitor used the judgment of Kutaisi Appeal Court of April 22, 2008 as a legal ground to abolish the resolution of July 28, 2009 on imposing the tax on the company. The previous judgment annulled the debt of 438 138 GEL on the company”.

According to the decision of Kutaisi Appeal Court, Batumi Tax Department was obliged to investigate the circumstances of the case and release new administrative protocol. According to examination protocol of 2004, Batumi Regional Centre released tax request legally. As for other appeals, Batumi City Court estimated that tax examination was scheduled and lawful. It did not need an order of a judge. Besides this, the Law of Georgia on “Amnesty, and Undeclared Tax Obligations and Property Legalization” does not work for the debts allocated on the suitor.

“Consequently, Batumi City Court considered the appeal of TV-25 groundless and did not satisfy it,” stated the official statement of the Kutaisi Appeal Court.

Does the statement of Kutaisi Appeal Court mean that TV Company will lose the trial, because we know the position of the higher instance of Batumi City Court? According to Nana Vasadze, the spokesperson of the Supreme Court, Kutaisi Appeal Court made an explanation about the decision on April 22, 2002.”We put it on the website of Supreme Court because the website of Kutaisi Appeal Court has less users”, said Nana Vasadze.

According to the new legislation, department of revenues has right to sell TV Company on an auction, though the court is still discussing the case. According to the amendments made by the parliament to the Tax Code, if a sequestered property is not sold on an auction, the head of department can remove sequester from the entity and it will be assigned to the state.

According to Ia Mamaladze, the head of Regional Media Association of Georgia the slogan of the protest rally in front of the building of parliament is freedom of speech, because printed media is also under pressure. She said the rally will be warning demonstration. The organizers state the protest of journalists may spread widely. According to reliable information, the representatives of non- governmental organizations will join the protest rally.

On the same day the protest rallies will be held in France, French city of Lil will support the TV Company and later rally will be held in Brussels too during the Euro Summit on October 25, 2009. Foreign journalists will carry a logo of TV Company 25 during official meetings and press-conferences.

Association of Regional Broadcasting Companies of Georgia spread the statement about TV Company today.

The Association is afraid that situation about the TV-25 may become a precedent for other TV Companies too. The association is aware that other TV Companies had debts before the Rose Revolution which were declined by the current government.

“We think the best resolution of the problem is creation of parliamentary commission, which will study the bases of “uncertain debts” and make political decisions not to encounter the same problems in the activities of TV Companies in future; it will hinder democratic development of Georgia”, it is mentioned in the statement of the Association .

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