Michnik named EU’s Georgia media monitor

“Following the mediation session between the broadcaster and the Georgian government, the Georgian authorities have vowed to allow broadcasting to resume. The mediation session was supervised by Adam Michnik, Gazeta Wyborcza editor-in-chief. Michnik was chosen by the European Union to attempt appeasing the situation. The chief editor held talks on Friday with the Georgian government, with the press and the opposition.

On Nov. 7, the Georgian government raided the privately owned television station and enforced a state of emergency. Imedia is owned by Rupert Murdoch and by Badri Patarkatsishvili. Patarkatsishvili is an oligarch within Georgia who sympathizes with the opposition.

The police and Georgia’s special services first used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons on opposition party protesters, before entering and raiding the private premises of the TV station.
Patarkatsishvili is set to run for the presidential elections being held on Jan. 5 early next year.

Patarkatsishvili made a public announcement at the beginning of November that he would be sacrificing his last penny to remove the current president, Micheil Saakashvili, out of power. The announcement was broadcasted on Patarkatsishvili TV station.

Protests by the opposition in support of Patarkatsishvili soon followed with tens of thousand of people showing up to the rallies. In fear of a coup Saakshvili quickly responded with enforcing a two week state of emergency and secret services were sent to raid the Imedia quarters, Georgia’s most popular broadcaster.

As reported by Gazeta Wyborcza, Michnik arrived in Tbilisi on Friday.
Talks led to a pledge made by the government to permit the re-commencement of broadcasting.
Gazeta Wyborcza has quoted its chief editor confirming at a press conference that “”either I see Imedi broadcasting within a week or I’ll be forced to tell the whole world, and, believe me, I’m in the position to do so, that the Georgian government does not respect freedom of the press, especially during an election campaign””.

The Georgian government did not respond to the comments made by Michnik.

The Georgian elections will be closely monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Georgian government needs to improve on its damaged image it has succeeded in attaining in the last weeks within the global community. Recommencing Imedia broadcasting would be a first step in the right direction.

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