He scaled the 3 meter wall in the early morning dusk and bolted into the yard as effortlessly as a panther. Images from Maestro TV’s surveillance cameras reveal the athletic abilities of the man who now is in control there. The owners of the station are pushing criminal charges after the wall-jumping, which landed Erosi Kitsmarishvili in the yard of Maestro, to where police later arrived to take his orders and force the station off air.
If he plans to get the broadcast going he has a few things going for him — a building with studios and a large security force to help him out — but no journalists. They all left last night, together with Maestro’s producer Mamuka Glonti, to continue broadcasting from their radio studio, which appears a safer location, after they received a warning that there would be bloodshed if they continued resisting the police siege.
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, who some in Tbilisi now call “Spiderman” because of his impressive acrobatics, has a background from using media as a tool in politics. He founded a TV company called Rustavi 2, which was central in the events leading up to the rose revolution in 2003.
He is also no stranger to controversy. In 2008 he said at a hearing in parliament that it was Georgia which had made the first military move at the outbreak of the war that August, although provoked by Russia. His statement was responded to by one of the ruling party’s representatives throwing a pen at Kitsmarishvili.
After serving as Moscow ambassador, he returned in 2008 and signed a contract with cable TV company Maestro in November 2009. They accepted the fresh influx of money and agreed to hand him control for three years.
In 2010 Kitsmarishvili joined former ombudsman Sozar Subari and exiled opposition politician Irakli Okruashvili to form a new opposition party called the Georgian Party. It held a high profile in the beginning, but has been almost hibernating for most of 2011.
After financier Bidzina Ivanishvili launched his political campaign this October, most of the country’s opposition groups have reoriented themselves towards him, with a few exceptions, the Georgian Party being one. Fellow leader Sozar Subari told of a simmering conflict which was kept a lid on outwards. But just as Ivanishvili for the first time went live in a TV studio, in Kitsmarishvili’s studio, the Georgian Party seems to have finally disintegrated, and Subari announced his departure.
The question most Tbilisians have considered the last two days is: Is this a joint effort by Kitsmarishvili and the government, or is he acting alone? DFWatch will come back with more on who Kitsmarishvili is and the events leading up to the attack on Maestro.
In the meantime one may wonder whether Erosi has been listening to another one who knows how to jump.