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Wagging Georgia2010-03-15 14:06
A pseudo news item broadcast on Imedi last night - a shock for both Georgia and South Ossetia - was hastily qualified as a bad or even a practical joke. Sure, Georgian TV guys were far not the first with their "sensation" - last century Herbert Wells' War of the Worlds broadcast on the radio brought forth a wave of panic in the USA. Still this recent attempt at wagging public opinion must be examined in a more detail.
Firstly, Georgian news makers "killed" two presidents - Edward Kokoyty and Mikheil Saakashvili. Given that such a coincidence in time is very unlikely, withdrawal of two leaders that are not on very good terms, putting it diplomatically, is a very interesting move for further simulation. In other words this is repetition of the Five-day war in a slightly changed situation: without controlling and decision-taking figures, which inevitably leads to a bloody outcome.
Secondly, this is quite remarkable that Georgian news makers "appointed" Nino Burdzhanadze as the head of "people's government" while under current Georgian law it's Niko Gilauri who in case of the president's death must take over. Thus Imedi unassumingly showed that if Saakashvili is taken out of the game the power will be taken over by the opposition. Quite remarkably, all this month Burdzhanadze and Nogaideli have been to Moscow meeting representatives of Russian leadership. A hint at "the Kremlin's hand" seems rather transparent and - more importantly - this hint is destined to Georgia's political and economic elite, not the common audience.
Thirdly, it's the message that "part of the army deserted to the adversary" - the biggie out of all above. During the August conflict no Georgian unit or militia group went over to the Russian troops. Poor level of preparation among Georgian militaries can be discussed endlessly but the fact remains - there were no traitors. Thus, mentioning treason to the army honor inevitably arouses suspiciousness among military men. Generally speaking it wouldn't be surprising if yesterday Georgian army officers had started checking loyalty to Sakartvelo and seeking collaborators. Sorting out relations at the level of units means inevitable armed confrontation. It's a miracle there was no shooting.
Another important thing is that all talks that Imedi simulated possible developments on the basis of forecasts of politologists and analysts sounds credible only to very naïve people. Judge for yourselves - a half-hour (!) prime time story on one of the central TV channels is a most powerful information weapon. It's reasonable to believe that the plot of the story wasn't written half hour before being put on air. The selection of shots, composition and sound were not made in a haste either. Believing that presentation of such a story was not coordinated at a rather high level is ridiculous and absurd.
What are we supposed to think about Saturday's demarche on Georgian TV? No doubt it looks like a silly joke whose authors and disseminators will soon be punished. I personally think it was quite a well planned technical plot - a media alarm for instruction. In this case we must admit the authors have achieved their goals. It took Georgian leaders less than a day to see reaction of Georgian and South Ossetian population, check the army's loyalty (or media deafness), see the reaction time in Georgian and Russian political circles. The situation was simulated perfectly, the material for further analysis was obtained too. Political technologists and analysts can continue their vacations in peace. But the tail keeps wagging the dog. As for panic among population, dramatically increased emergency calls, heart attacks and deaths - well, things happen. As a rule people die in war. Even when it's a media war.