Ina Gudavadze, a widow of the late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, asked President Saakashvili to confirm commitment to the democratic values by deeds and help the Patarkatsishvili’s family in restoring its ownership rights over the Imedi TV and radio station.
The Patarkatsishvili family is in dispute over Imedi ownership with Joseph Kay, a distant relative of the late tycoon. In an open letter to the President, released on November 18, Gudavadze reiterates the family’s position that Kay took over the Imedi TV and radio station “through trickery and deception.”
Kay’s attorneys and representatives convened a news conference on November 18 denying the allegations and accusing the Patarkatsishvili family of staging libel campaign against Kay.
Kay said in March that he had bought shares in Imedi TV and radio from Gogi Jaoshvili “simply by paying money.” Jaoshvili, reportedly a former close friend of Patarkatsishvili's, owned 70% of JMG, a company with a 65% stake in I-Media, which has total ownership of Imedi TV and radio. According to papers submitted to the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) by Imedi TV in December, the remaining 35% of I-Media shares are owned by Universal, a firm founded by three relatives of Patarkatsishvili's.
Ina Gudavadze writes in her open letter that although no public information is available about the authorities having link with Kay’s illegal ownership of the Imedi, but the television stations recent reporting, the letter says, suggest that Imedi TV “is no longer free of government censorship.”
Gudavadze has also denied recent media rumors about the Patarkatsishvili family having talks with the authorities, that would lead to hand over of the television station back to the family.
“We believe these groundless report are being circulated only to quiet public discontent on the eve of planned rallies supporting media freedom in Georgia. In fact, as you well know, the questions surrounding Imedi TV remain unresolved,” the letter reads. “I am not a politician and I have no political ambitions. But, I am not so naïve as to think that, given its political significance, Imedi will be returned to us without your instruction. I ask, therefore, that you take this step now – openly and transparently.”