Hmmm, all of this is just too much of a coincidence. First Pakistan now this? Are these somehow connected?
MOSCOW — The last thing viewers of leading independent channel Imedi in the troubled Caucasus nation of Georgia saw on air late Wednesday night were special forces troops entering the station’s studio to pull the plugs.
With president Mikheil Saakashvili declaring a 15-day state of emergency in the country on Wednesday, all independent media is off the air. Only state-owned broadcasters still have access to transmission facilities.
Developments follow six days of peaceful demonstrations in the capital Tbilisi, which were broken up by police with tear gas and water cannon early Wednesday. Numbers of those injured run into the hundreds, reports suggest.
Imedi, which had the reputation of being the most anti-government player, screened footage from hospitals of victims of the day’s violence. In previous days, it had also broadcast polemic interviews with former defense minister Irakly Okruashvili, now in exile in Germany and a major opponent of Saakashvili.
Imedi is now fully-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., leaving the magnate with a political hot potato on his hands.
Its previous owner, local oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, sold 49% of the station to News Corp. last year, and confirmed this week that the conglomerate had bought his remaining majority stake.
Billionaire Patarkatsishvili has a colorful past in the region, having been commercial director through much of the 1990s of Russia’s main station Channel One (then called ORT). A close business partner of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, the former majority owner of ORT who is now in political exile in London, Patarkatsishvili has pledged his fortune to the overthrow of the current regime in Georgia.
Saakashvili, who came to power under circumstances of similar unrest four years ago in the country’s so-called Rose Revolution, has claimed that Russian subversives are behind the new unrest, and announced that he will expel Russian diplomats. The four years of his regime have been heavily supported, and financed, by the U.S. and European nations.
Another leading independent TV station, Rustavi-2, went off the air more quietly Wednesday, announcing only that it hoped to “reconnect” with viewers when the 15-day broadcasting ban expires.
Ironically, Rustavi-2 was a crucial supporter of Saakashvili’s 2003 Rose Revolution, broadcasting twice in one week — many believe at the prompting of the then U.S. ambassador to Georgia — a documentary on the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in Belgrade.
– By Tom Birchenough
http://www.mediachannel.org/wordpress/2 ... n-georgia/
http://www.mediachannel.org/wordpress/2 ... airy-tale/