Friday, December 7, 2007
Journalists at the Georgian television station Imedi, which was raided and shut down during the civil unrest here exactly a month ago (see video), have returned to their desks. Imedi's management alleges that the security forces who forced the station's staff out with batons, tear gas and rubber bullets then went on to damage or steal millions of dollars' worth of TV studio equipment. The station, which is the main outlet for opposition views, is owned by companies run by two oligarchs: Rupert Murdoch (of Fox TV and News of the World renown) and Badri Patarkatsishvili (one of Georgia's richest men and an opposition candidate in upcoming presidential elections). The Georgian government says Patarkatsishvili was using Imedi as a mouthpiece for his attempt to overthrow the government. The Georgian opposition says the authorities were trying to silence freedom of speech.