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Burjanadze Justifies Imedi Closure, but not the Means

Nino Burjanadze, the acting president, has defended the authorities? decision to shut down Imedi TV, but has acknowledged the inappropriateness of using special purpose police units to do so.

?Can you imagine what would have happened if Imedi had been allowed to continue reporting that Sameba [Holly Trinity Cathedral] was about to be stormed and that special purpose forces were moving towards it?? Burjanadze said. ?It would have been better if it had happened differently. It would have been better if we hadn’t used special purpose forces. I’ll tell you frankly that the option of turning Imedi?s TV signal off from the [central] TV tower was under consideration, but it was technically impossible, because Imedi is a well-equipped station and it was impossible to just turn it off.?

Burjanadze was referring to a news report by an Imedi TV journalist made before the station was raided by police. The journalist, speaking in a live broadcast from the yard of the Trinity Cathedral on November 7 after riot police had dispersed protesters gathered at Rike, said: ?Some people say they have seen riot policemen coming towards the Trinity Cathedral.? She did, however, also add that it was still unconfirmed and she was trying to double-check the information. Imedi TV resumed broadcasting on December 12.

Burjanadze also justified the break-up of the protest rally in Tbilisi on November 7. The dispersal by riot police of a protest rally in Batumi the following day was, however, as a result of ?a misunderstanding,? she said. 

The Batumi rally was held on November 8 during the state of emergency, and was, as such, illegal. However, many of those involved didn’t know that emergency rule applied to the city, as the authorities had initially announced that the state of emergency would only apply to the capital, Tbilisi. Its extension to the rest of the country was only announced after midnight on November 8.
Burjanadze?s comments were made in Batumi on December 20. She was speaking to students, as part of a series of such meetings throughout the country, in which she has met with a wide range of professional groups. She is also expected to meet with a group of doctors in Batumi.

Although the meetings have been held in her capacity as acting President, the opposition has accused Burjanadze of drumming up support for Mikheil Saakashvili?s re-election.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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